With the field reduced to two candidates, Egypt's presidential election has shifted to wooing the opposition. But some Egyptians are dissatisfied with the choice between a Mubarak minister and the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt's two main presidential candidates campaigned for the revolutionary youth vote on Saturday, as the Arab world's most populous nation heads toward a June runoff that is set to pit Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister against the Muslim Brotherhood.
Presidential contender Ahmed Shafiq sought to play down his ties to the former regime, promising that Egypt had entered a new era. Shafiq served as ousted president Hosni Mubarak's final prime minister and as commander of the air force from 1996-2002.
"I promise all Egyptians that we will begin a new era," Shafiq said. "There is no turning back. We will not re-produce the past."
"Your revolution has been hijacked and I am committed to bringing (it) back," he told a news conference.
Shafiq won 24 percent of the vote in the presidential election on Wednesday and Thursday, just behind Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi with 25 percent. They are now seeking the support of the 11 other candidates who did not make it into the runoff.
Brotherhood appeals to opposition
The Muslim Brotherhood, meanwhile, sought to rally the opposition behind Mursi. The Arab world's most influential Islamist organization painted Shafiq as a threat to the uprising that brought down the authoritarian Mubarak regime in February 2011.
"We call on all sincere political and national forces to unite to protect the revolution and to achieve the pledges we took before our great nation," the Brotherhood said in a statement.
"Today we face desperate attempts to reproduce the old regime," The Brotherhood added.
The Brotherhood hopes to co-opt the backers of Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, an independent Islamist. Fotouh, who built a coalition of Islamists and secular liberals, was originally pegged as a favorite in this week's presidential polls, but ended up having a lackluster performance.
The June 16-17 runoff election between Shafiq and Mursi presents a difficult choice for many Egyptians who fought to bring down the Mubarak regime. While some fear that a Shafiq presidency would effectively be a restoration of the Mubarak era, they also worry that the conservative Muslim Brotherhood will restrict civil liberties through Shariah law.
The Muslim Brotherhood already controls half the seats in the Egyptian parliament. Liberal and minority Christian groups also accused the Brotherhood of trying to dominate a 100-member panel charged with drafting a new constitution for the country. An Egyptian court ultimately suspended that body pending further review of its legality.
"Do we deliver Egypt to a representative of the old regime, as though nothing had happened, no revolution had taken place?" wrote prominent activist and blogger Omar Kamel.
"Or do we satisfy the (Brotherhood)'s greed for power, and give them all but complete control of the country and risk the fate of the revolution to satisfy their ambitions?"
slk/msh/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)