No obvious choice

Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Dina Ezzat, 15 – 21 March 2012.

Presidential candidates require the written and officially acknowledged support of either 30,000 citizens or 30 MPs. Until Al-Ahram Weekly went to press on Wednesday none of the key candidates had secured the support of 30 MPs, and everyone complained of having difficulty in officially registering members of the public as supporters.  

Whether the candidate is Islamist or liberal, the problems are the same. Supporters of former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa are facing the same uphill struggle to register as those of Abdel-Moneim Abul-Fotouh, onetime member of the influential Muslim Brotherhood. For once Salafist Hazem Abu Ismail and Nasserist Hamdeen Sabahi are in the same boat.

The difficulties, says a leading campaign team member, “are orchestrated obstruction”. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) is deliberately preventing presidential runners from officially registering the volume of support they enjoy in an attempt to discredit them in the eyes of their wider electorate.

“The most charitable interpretation,” says another presidential campaigner, “is that SCAF is sending a message to candidates that it cannot be ignored.”

A less charitable interpretation is that the ruling military is seeking assurances from candidates that its vast economic interests and political weight remain intact post any election.

“The current members of SCAF all plan to retire on 1 July,” says a source close to several members of the military council. “But this does not mean SCAF is willing to compromise the status of the military in any future political set-up” … //

… The Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist groups have both complained that Hassan’s nomination was a politically naive move by SCAF, not least because of his business contacts and other connections with key figures from the Mubarak years, some of whom are facing corruption charges, others already serving jail terms for graft.

Hassan has so far secured only the backing of the Wafd, and even that has caused dissent among party ranks.

SCAF and the Muslim Brotherhood are said to be considering an alternative to Hassan, with Hossam El-Gheriani, an Islamist judge, being the name most often mentioned.

For Hassan, or anybody like him, to become president is possible, says MP Ziad El-Oleimi, a leading figure of the 25 January Revolution. “But what it means is that rather than an elected president with a popular mandate Egypt’s head of state would be the head of an advisory board and subject to the influence of the groups that chose him.”

For El-Oleimi as for Khaled Abdel-Hamid, another 25 January Revolution figure, this would mean that “the revolution would have to continue” and that “demonstrations would begin again”. (full text).

Links on en.wikipedia:

Links for Articles:

Desperately seeking endorsements, on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Amani Maged, 15 – 21 March 2012;

The Kiwi Who Was German: Search for Identity Reveals World War II Crime, on Spiegel Online International, by Barbara Hardinghaus, March 16, 2012: New Zealander George Jaunzemis spent 30 years searching for his true identity. Now, with the help of the International Tracing Service of the Red Cross, he finally knows who he is. But his story, which involves a World War II crime, turns up more questions than answers …

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