Several candidates intending to run in Egypt's upcoming presidential election may find their names taken off the ballot should a series of legal challenges to their candidacy be upheld.
A day after Omar Suleiman officially entered the Egyptian presidential race, a lawyer has filed a legal challenge to try and get him barred from running, according to a judicial source quoted by Reuters. A court is expected to hear the case Tuesday.
Suleiman is a former head of Egypt's General Intelligence service. He was also a deputy to Hosni Mubarak in the last couple of weeks before the long-time president stepped down last year in the face of mass protests against his rule. His involvement in the Mubarak regime is the reason for the case seeking to ban him from the presidential election.
The case also targets Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak's final prime minister, who is also running in the elections.
Suleiman said in an interview with an Egyptian newspaper a day after announcing his candidacy that it would restore stability in Egypt, while the candidates of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood would not have much of a chance due to a loss of popularity among Egyptians.
"The practices of the Brotherhood and their monopolistic ways and unacceptable pronouncements have contributed to the change in public opinion," Suleiman said. He added that he had been receiving threats since he made the announcement to run.
Islamist candidate woes
In a news conference on Monday, one of the Muslim Brotherhood's candidates, Khairat El-Shater, said Suleiman represented a step back for the country after hundreds of people died in the revolution against Mubarak.
"The Egyptians did not make their sacrifices just for Mubarak's vice president to make a return," he told a news conference. "If there is an attempt to steal the revolution, we will go back into the streets."
Shater's candidacy has also been called into question, prompting the Muslim Brotherhood to name a backup candidate should Shater 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.
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 may hold Egyptian citizenship only.
mz/pfd (AFP, Reuters, AP)