Candidates and voters prepare for Egypt's presidential election

A woman casts her vote in al-Arish city during elections for the People's Assembly in January. [Asmaa Waguih/Reuters]

A woman casts her vote in al-Arish city during elections for the People's Assembly in January. [Asmaa Waguih/Reuters]

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The Egyptian presidential election race is beginning to take shape after election officials announced it will be held in June.

Several candidates have declared their candidacy, including three Islamists and several former ministers and senior government officials. A specific date has not been announced yet because officials are discussing how to provide enough time for citizens abroad to vote.

Mohammed Attia, the minister of parliamentary affairs, said candidates can submit their candidacy paperwork from March 10th to April 8th.

"The High Elections Committee has exclusive authority to set the date for the presidential elections," Attia told Al-Ahram. "The presidential election law amendment states that results will be announced by provincial committees instead of the central committee to ensure the elections are transparent and credible."

The list of potential candidates includes Amr Moussa, former secretary-general of the Arab League and former foreign minister; Ahmed Shafiq, former prime minister; Hamdeen Sabahi, a political activist; Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader; Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, a Salafist cleric; Dr. Muhammad Salim Al-Awa, an Islamist intellectual; and General Hossam Khairallah, a former intelligence official.

Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, the former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, withdrew from the presidential race in January.

Muslim Brotherhood will not endorse candidate

Islamist and secular political forces have so far declined to endorse potential candidates.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, which won more than 40% of seats in parliament, declined to endorse any candidate or nominate one for the presidential race.

Other Islamist parties, especially the Salafists and the Islamic Group, are in the process of identifying candidates to endorse.

Tariq al-Zumar, an Islamic Group leader, said last week the group invited several potential candidates to meet at its headquarters to discuss their electoral programmes so the party could select a single candidate to endorse.

Mohammed Nour, spokesman for the Salafist al-Nour Party, said the party will announce its endorsement when the nomination period begins.

Essam el-Erian, a parliamentarian in the Freedom and Justice Party, told Al-Shorfa the presidential election represents an important step forward in the nation's progress, but it is essential that a new constitution be drafted simultaneously so that the powers of the next president are clearly defined.

He said the transition period needs to end quickly and "should not extend beyond June in order to start rebuilding the Egyptian state, restore its economic strength and its role on the regional and international spheres".

"The Brotherhood is committed to honouring its pledge not to field a candidate in the presidential elections nor support any of the potential candidates," el-Erian said. "There are many national figures in Egypt who can carry this heavy burden."

Defining presidential powers

Ahmed Oleiba, a political researcher, told Al-Shorfa, "It is difficult for most liberal and leftist forces to endorse a specific candidate now especially since the new constitution is still unfinished, and the powers of the president have not been defined."

"Among some non-Islamist forces, especially youth and revolutionary movements, candidates such as Moussa and Shafiq enjoy wide popularity, but the fact that they worked with the former regime hamstrings their ability to garner support from secular forces. At the same time, they are seen by Islamist forces such as the Salafists and the Islamic Group, as being non-supportive of the [Islamists'] conservative views," he said.

"It is a complex process that will only be resolved through the ballot box by the average citizen, whose choices have surprised everyone during the past period," Oleiba said.

Many voters said they are undecided about which candidate to support, especially since the candidates have not announced their platforms publicly.

"I have no reservations about any of the candidates, but I know nothing about their programmes to make a choice. It does not matter if the candidate is an Islamist or secular as long as his programme is compatible with my expectations," said Ayman Mounir, 28, an accountant for an insurance company.

Mona Abdul-Khaliq, 40, said she will support the candidate who she determines will preserve Arab and Islamic values and ensure that Egypt enjoys security, stability and economic growth. She said Islamist candidates seem to come closest to meeting those criteria, but she will wait before making a decision to read about their programmes.

Magdy Ismail, 35, a lawyer, said, "Regardless of whether the next president is an Islamist or is secular, he needs to focus on issues that affect the Egyptian family, such as education, increasing salaries, and improving the economy."

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  • READER COMMENTS

    محمد

    2012-4-18

    The real cause of fear behind the Islamists’ takeover of power in the state of Egypt is that Egypt is a free democratic, secular country experiencing the existence of many of the aspects that, if the Islamic government took over, it would prevent, reject and eliminate. First and most important is the aspect of tourism and also the large opening up of Egypt and the presence of foreigners and tourists, in addition to dealing with a lot of foreign aspects and other parties in addition to the media, technical and trade aspects, with the knowledge that a lot of Egyptian people approve that the system in the State of Egypt should be Islamic, there is no objection, but there are severe and large fears among the Christians and the rest of the religions, so we see there is fear on their part, as well as Muslims who live their lives in an open way. It could be said that it is secularism without any intolerance or tightening. Thus, the apprehension comes from those people who expect that Islamic rule in the State of Egypt will be fanatic rule perhaps, or radical or militant, and will impose a lot of instructions on the Egyptian people and force them to do what they don’t want, and this may create endless big and serious problems. Hence, it is very essential that there be moderation and real, sincere and serious reflections to what the Islamic religion brought in terms of teachings, ethics and behaviors indicative of wisdom, reason and morality with which everyone should deal equally, without hurting or harming anyone, and the fear is the result of the defamation of the true Islamic religion, which a lot of elements and criminals have done who do not want good for this religion to continue or be dealt with by the people in the right way and its core assets.

  • Kanr

    2012-4-7

    What is happening to the citizens in Egypt is a big farce. How come they form the constitution of the country without having any legal or constitutional experiences?! How come they would do that and they are not even qualified? You cannot give what you don't own already! The formation of the constitution has to be assigned to the specialists in laws and the constitutional laws in specific. They have the understanding and vision for this task and not the losers who are now responsible for forming the constitution that includes the begging Muslim and mercenary Salafis.

  • احمد جميل

    2012-3-21

    Since the revolution on January 25, everyone changed and everyone was a hypocrite as far as the interests of the country are concerned. However, as a testimony to God, this man did not and will not be a hypocrite. This man, his speech is measured, he is non-talkative like most candidates and has the nobility and ethics of the Knights. He did not dive into the criticism during the reign of Mubarak despite what he personally suffered from Mubarak's rule and his sole concern is the progress of Egypt and its national security.

  • ام العنود

    2012-3-14

    The elections are very important to the people of Egypt because they have longed for a free and fair election to bring new people to the Egyptian political arena that could make great achievements as to the services, which contribute to the comfort of the Egyptian people.

  • سعد انور

    2012-3-5

    The elections in Egypt were organized fairly and in a very good way, especially given that all the procedures were good and free from fraud, violence and cruelty. I believe that the Egyptians chose what they need, and they now have their chosen rulers who are expected to rule it in a very good way to save them from exhaustion. The Egyptian people suffered much and this is the time for them to get rid of the nightmare of Hosni Mubarak. Currently, the people of Egypt are experiencing better conditions and they have to think about everything that is better and God will support them, as they want to maintain their good conditions. I want to say to the Egyptians that they should never stop trying or allow anyone to destroy their unity, regardless of whether the Islamists‎ or the socialists assume power. In all cases, the Egyptians have to think about their new conditions and do their best to achieve better achievements. The results up to now show that the Islamists‎ represent the majority, but whether the Islamists‎ assume power or not, the new ruling powers have to treat the Egyptian people in a better way. I urge all the Egyptians to work hard to build the future of their country, because they deserve everything that is good. The Egyptian government has to do its best to serve the Egyptians and protect their history and civilization.

  • بكري باشا

    2012-3-1

    The experience of the elections that took place in Egypt for the election of members of the Egyptian People's Assembly has been one of the leading experiences that Egyptian people have never seen before because it was conducted with integrity and sincerity of intentions, so the people can choose their representatives without pressure or direction of any particular destination, as well as the efforts of the competent committees supervising the elections of good organization and provision of all ways to the success of the elections that took place in the country. Also, political figures and media from all over the world participated in the process to get information on the conduct of the elections and the transfer of the real picture of the elections through follow-up, and conducting meetings with various social groups whether in the polling stations or external in order to clarify what is going on of the practice where the media had to transfer a lot of the facts of this election, for which the Egyptian people and the world testified as fair and typical. The Egyptian citizen felt that he engaged in the first elections of this kind, casting his opinion freely to choose the candidate whom he thinks will represent him better in the Egyptian parliament and at the same time will make every effort to serve the Egyptian masses that conducted the revolution against injustice and tyranny, and succeeded in making the country's new future through the adoption of democratic principles in political action to lift the country of the quagmire of underdevelopment in various fields, which was the result of the policy adopted by the authoritarian regime in the management of state affairs.

  • نبيل عوض

    2012-2-28

    Thank God that Egypt has started a new era. God willing, this era will be much better than before. In fact, these elections are the starting point to achieve the objectives of the revolution. We want to express our thanks to all the sons of the Egyptian people, both Muslims and Christians, who contributed to this revolution. Congratulations on this popular celebration. Indeed, joy has spread all over the country, thanks to these elections.

  • نصري علاء الدين

    2012-2-28

    Thank God that the elections have been at a high level of organization. Thus, they have gained all the Egyptians’ trust, although many people have doubted their fairness. Thus, these elections have been perfect. And Egyptians have managed to vote freely and boldly for the first time, especially after toppling the former dictatorial regime. Thus, they have elected those who deserve political positions. And all Egyptians have been happy with these elections, because they have been able to choose according to their desire. In fact, Egyptians believe in freedom and they want to protect the country from external and internal influences. Thus, democracy and freedom must continue in the country and in all elections. This is in order to achieve peaceful change through these elections, despite all the doubts and people’s fear. Besides, many people have stayed away from these elections due to the spread of conflicts among them. In fact, the citizens know the importance of their voices and of the election’s success. That’s why all people have participated in these elections. And this has showed the extent of the Egyptians’ patriotism. In fact, all people have participated in these elections. And they have prevented money traders from manipulating their voices. Thus, they have put the country’s interest above all other things.

  • عامر

    2012-2-25

    The success of Islamist parties in the first round of Egypt’s parliamentary elections surprised the liberals and caused panic to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Liberals worry that this party will impose strict religious laws all over the country. However, the religious parties themselves are divided over performing this act. Tourism is Egypt's top foreign currency earner and it is predicted that the ban on alcohol will be imposed by the Islamist parties. However, Egypt Islamist party says that they want to boost tourism. Luckily, the laws regarding alcohol would not be changed but drinking alcohol in streets would not be allowed. On the other hand, it is thought that Islamic legislation will harm the country’s social and economic condition. For investors who want a stable environment for their businesses, hesitation is a major deterrent. This party is trying its best to maintain Egypt’s solidarity by acting lenient towards the policy of alcohol and other tourist entertainment will not be banned or restricted.

  • فهمي

    2012-2-25

    Elections for the People's Assembly in 2011 have occupied the attention of observers and analysts, recording various reactions from some supporters grateful for the smooth and transparent conduct of the electoral process, and others opposing and criticizing the conduct of the electoral process for omissions and errors. The point of view of the opponents and critics of the Egyptian People's Assembly elections is embodied in the performance of some parties, especially those that belong to the religious movement in Egypt, and how it was working only to guide the will of the people, and not only to announce its presence. Perhaps the reason for this in reality is the presence of those parties, more than the other parties with the oldest history among all the parties. The religious parties have existed since ancient times, unrivaled except by the Wafd Party, but the Muslim Brotherhood is the owner of the closest spot to the citizen, as it is more widespread with a better system and preparation. And from here came criticism and conflict. No one denies that there are some omissions by those parties and groups, but the actual performance of the conduct of the election process was not tainted by impurity, though maybe it took advantage of the existence of some individual incidents aimed at rigging the electoral process as a whole, but that was not true of everything. Given the conduct of the electoral process in total, we discover that it was the most honest and representative of the free will of the people to choose their representatives.

  • كرم المصرى

    2012-2-24

    The Muslim Brotherhood gained two-thirds of the seats in the recent elections, demonstrating that there is little public support for moderate Islam Egypt. As moderate Islamist voices are drowned out, the path ahead for Egypt seems clear. Greater public support for extremist opinion and growing anti-western sentiment has created a situation which terror groups can exploit. Al-Qaeda initially appeared to have lost ground when the pro-democracy movement succeeded in overthrowing Mubarak. Yet, it now seems likely that the conditions are in place for greater support for the extremist views that they represent.

  • احسان قاسم شناوه

    2012-2-24

    The incidents that took place days ago in Port Said are part of a conspiracy plotted by criminal opportunist groups against the Egyptian people. More than seventy were killed and hundreds were injured in the soccer match that occurred in Port Said. There is a terrible deficiency in the security situation being controlled by the responsible security leaders. This led to the big massacre, because there are destroyers and thugs injected into the crowds. They were the reason for this major feud being created, which is considered the biggest relapse in the history of the Egyptian security forces that are well known for handling any situations with efficiency by controlling them easily.

  • سمير

    2012-2-24

    Egypt has been suffering from a lack of security in the country since the outbreak of the revolution a year ago. Whenever there is some stability, very bad incidents take place that nobody expected to happen. This leads to the spread of chaos, corruption and sabotage of many government institutions, private property and other kinds of chaos. Some criminal groups attack secure people, steal their money and cars by committing armed robberies against houses and stores. Cars are also stolen by armed groups that have appeared lately in Egyptian society. The country has also witnessed many incidents, especially in the last months, represented in theft, plunder, looting, attacks on the peaceful people and creating feuds between Muslims and Copts in the clashes that happen from time to time between the security forces and the protesters. Protesters did not commit to the rules of protesting and freedom of expression concerning what is happening in the country. This led to further insecurity in the Egyptian street. I think such acts are part of a conspiracy planned by some people to cause the Egyptian Revolution to miscarry. The destroyers are interpolated to commit violence, theft and attacks against people, to weaken the security situation in Egypt, in order to achieve their plan to rule and control the country once more.