04/13/2012, 00.00
EGYPT
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Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists bar former Mubarak regime officials

Parliament passed the bill yesterday but the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces must still approve it. Any prime minister or top official from the Mubarak regime is barred from active politics for ten years. Various presidential candidates could be excluded.

Cairo (AsiaNews/ Agencies) - Egypt's parliament, which is dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists, has approved a law that would bar members of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's party from running for office. Anyone who has served as prime minister or was a senior member of the old regime would be barred from political activity for 10 years.

Adopted yesterday, the law still needs to be ratified by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), but the Justice Minister has already described it as unconstitutional. 

The new law comes a few days after Omar Suleiman, a former vice president and intelligence chief under Mubarak announced that he was seeking the presidency in the upcoming elections. In order to attract the support of secular votes, he said he was running to prevent Egypt from becoming an Islamic state. If adopted, the law could jeopardise May's presidential elections.

Experts say the race is dominated by Islamist parties and former officials in Mubarak's regime and his National Democratic Party, who have come out of the shadow after a year of silence. Pro-democracy parties, which led the Jasmine Revolution, are de facto excluded from the election.

Out of 23 candidates, only three moderate figures have any chance of challenging the stranglehold of the Muslim Brotherhood, Salafists and old Mubarak cronies. They are: Khaled Ali, a lawyer and human rights activist and a former director of the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights, Ayman Abd el Aziz Nour, head of the El-Ghad Party (a liberal secular party) who first challenged Mubarak in the sham 2005 election, and Amr Moussa, a former secretary general of the Arab League and a onetime foreign minister under Mubarak.

The Muslim Brotherhood is putting forward Khairat and l-Shater, a rich businessman and the party's treasurer who was released from prison in 2011.

Salafists are presenting Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. A fixture on national TV, he is one of the radical Muslim leaders with the largest followings, especially among young Islamists who recently organised demonstrations across the country against his exclusion from the race on a technicality.

Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, secretary general of the Arab Medical Association and a former member and supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, is one of the independent candidates.

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