Three candidates disqualified from running in Egypt's presidential poll


CAIRO – Three top contenders for Egypt’s presidency were scrambling to stay in the election race yesterday after the authorities disqualified them on technical grounds, prompting one to say that a “major crisis” threatened the landmark vote.

The election is seen as the last step to democracy after more than a year of unstable army rule since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown by a street revolt.

The generals are due to hand power to the new president by July 1st but the latest drama saw new accusations they were trying to prolong their influence.

Mr Mubarak’s former spy chief, Omar Suleiman, drew an outcry from opponents of the old regime when he entered the race last week, only to be told late on Saturday he had failed to secure enough signatures in one province to run.

Two leading Islamist candidates were also disqualified, one because he has a criminal record – dating from what was widely seen as a political trial under Mr Mubarak – and the other because his mother had taken US citizenship, state media said.

All three have 48 hours to appeal to the state election committee. If their elimination is confirmed, it would redraw the electoral map just weeks before the vote gets under way in May.

The disqualifications add to the drama of a transition marked by violence and bitter rivalries between Islamists, secular-minded reformists and remnants of the Mubarak order. A lawyer for Salafi preacher Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, the most hardline of the Islamists running, said there would be a “a major crisis” now his client was barred. – (Reuters)