Nominations have closed for Egypt's presidential election just in time for the country's former intelligence chief to declare his candidacy. The Muslim Brotherhood nominated a second candidate.
The deadline for nominations for Egypt's presidential election expired on Sunday with more than 20 candidates having thrown their hats into the ring.
The most controversial of the candidates is Omar Suleiman, a former head of Egypt's General Intelligence service. He was also a deputy to former President Hosni Mubarak in the last couple of weeks before he stepped down last year in the face of mass protests against his rule.
The 75-year-old Suleiman had to be guided by police through a crowd of cheering supporters after he arrived at the electoral commission's offices in Cairo shortly before the deadline expired.
Suleiman, who had previously said he would not enter the race, had a change of heart on Friday, saying overwhelming public demand had stirred his sense of national duty. He then had to rush to gather the required number of signatures endorsing his nomination.
The head of the election committee, Hatem Bagato, “acknowledged that the papers included the certified backing from citizens above the minimum required, which is at least 30,000,” the state news agency MENA reported.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, meanwhile, announced that it was fielding a second candidate over concerns that their first, Kharat al-Shater, could be ruled ineligible.
Egypt's ruling military council issued pardons last week for a series of convictions Shater had received under Mubarak's regime, in a move that was thought to have cleared the way for his candidacy. However some legal experts say that might not be enough and an actual reversal of the verdicts would be required. The party's president, Mohammed Morsi, is the backup candidate.
Just a couple of weeks ago there had been widespread speculation that the party, which emerged as the strongest party following Egypt's first parliamentary elections since Mubarak stepped down, would not field even a single candidate in the presidential contest.
Another Islamist candidate, Hazem Sala Abu Ismail, is widely expected to be declared ineligible to run, after the election commission on Saturday said it had received confirmation that his mother had acquired a US passport. The election rules dictate that candidates, their spouses and their parents hold Egyptian citizenship only.
Also among the candidates for the May 23-24 vote is the former head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.
pfd/ncy (dpa, Reuters)