Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Egypt poll organisers bar last Mubarak-era PM

Ahmad Shafiq
AFP/File - Khaled Desouki

Organisers of next month's presidential election on Tuesday formally barred the last prime minister to serve under ousted Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak from standing.

The electoral commission's decision came after the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power on his overthrow in February last year, approved a bill adopted by the Islamist-dominated parliament earlier this month banning the candidacies of all senior Mubarak-era officials.

Ahmed Shafiq, a general and former civil aviation minister, had been named premier in the final days of Mubarak's three-decade rule as he battled an 18-day popular uprising.

His disqualification follows that of the Mubarak-era intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, who briefly served as vice president, on the technical grounds that he failed to secure the statutory number of endorsements from all the country's provinces.

He was among 10 candidates barred by the commission on April 14, who also included two prominent Islamists -- the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat El-Shater, ruled out because of a military court conviction, and the more radical Salafists' Hazem Abu Ismail, rejected because his mother had taken joint US citizenship.

SCAF chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi's ratification of an amendment to the political rights law approved by parliament on April 12 was announced by state media earlier on Tuesday.

The official MENA news agency said Tantawi "ratified the amendments to the law on political rights," which "bars any president, vice president, prime minister or leader or (senior member) of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party from exercising political rights for 10 years."

The electoral commission is due to publish a definitive list of candidates on Thursday.

However, the law as approved would not exclude Amr Mussa, a front runner who served as Mubarak's foreign minister until 2001 before heading the Arab League, as it extends back only 10 years and does not apply to ex-ministers.

Two prominent remaining candidates are the head of the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, Mohammed Mursi, and former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh.

The first round of the presidential election is scheduled for May 23 and 24, and the SCAF has promised to hand power to an elected civilian president by the end of June.

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