Egypt’s Presidential Candidates Face Possible Disqualification
On Thursday, Egypt’s Administrative Court found that conservative Salafi presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail was eligible to run for president and that the Interior Ministry must “hand over a certificate to Hazem Salah Abu Ismail to prove that his mother had no other nationality besides her Egyptian nationality,” said Judge Abdel Salam al-Nagger. Presidential regulations require that a candidate be born to two Egyptian citizens, and in recent weeks reports emerged that Abu Ismail’s mother had a U.S. passport. The Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential nominee, Khairat al-Shater, also faces possible disqualification from the race because of his criminal record; presidential elections rules greatly restrict those convicted on criminal charges from running for president. However, the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) pardoned al-Shater shortly before his nomination. Last Sunday, Socialist Popular Alliance Party candidate Abu Ezz al-Hariri filed a case with the Administrative Court to overturn al-Shater’s pardon.
Also on Thursday, the Egyptian People’s Assembly passed a bill banning figures who served under the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak from running for president for a period of ten years. The bill came in response to the candidacy of former Vice –President Omar Suleiman, who entered the presidential race Friday. However, the law is unlikely to be enacted since it must be approved by the SCAF, which many see as backing Suleiman’s candidacy. Suleiman said in an interview Thursday that he chose to run for president to prevent Egypt from becoming a “religious state.” Writing for CNN, Fareed Zakarai writes that even though Islamist presidential candidates al-Shater and Abu Ismail “are advocating some polices that we might disagree with vehemently, we must remember that they are entirely within their rights to do so,” adding, “Egypt is currently a military dictatorship ruled by a junta, under martial law, with a great deal of abuse of governmental power.”