Egypt rocked as former Mubarak aide enters race
The surprise announcement Friday of the presidential candidacy of senior Mubarak regime official, Omar Suleiman, created a new twist in an already eventful race. Hundreds of Egyptian internet users immediately expressed their amazement and their dismay - to see the former Vice President and Chief of Intelligence return to the forefront of the political scene after the January-February 2011 revolt.
The announcement was even more unexpected after on Thursday Suleiman looked certain to fail in obtaining the necessary support, as nominations end Sunday.
But in a statement released by the official MENA news agency, the former aide of Hosni Mubarak said he answered "a popular call."
Hundreds of people demonstrated in a Cairo neighborhood to call for his candidacy. "It would be an honor for Egypt if Omar Suleiman is president," said one demonstrator.
Mr. Suleiman promised "every effort possible (...) in a hope to achieve change, fulfill the objectives of the revolution and materialize the hopes of the Egyptian people."
Some of his supporters gathered in the district of Abbassiya, and began to disperse late Friday afternoon to try and obtain the required number of supporters. Candidates need 30,000 signatures of voters, or the support of thirty members of a party represented in Parliament.
Mr. Suleiman's candidacy is the latest development in Egypt's presidential race, still in its early stages.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the leading political force, already changed the political landscape on March 31 by announcing that they would run a presidential candidate, despite vowing not to do so. The Brotherhood presented its "No. 2", Khairat Al Shater, a wealthy businessman considered the strategist of the Movement.
In recent days, there were reports that the Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail could be excluded from the race because his mother holds U.S. citizenship. Electoral law stipulates that a presidential candidate must only be Egyptian, as well as his or her parents and spouse.
Thousands of supporters of Abu Ismail marched through the capital on Friday to say "no manipulation" and demanded that their candidate remains in the race.
The first round of Egypt's presidential elections will be held on May 23 and 24. The final list of candidates shall be published on April 26.