By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: Head of Ghad El-Thawra Party, Ayman Nour, announced Thursday his intention to contest Egypt’s presidency on behalf of the party after the military rulers pardoned him from a previous conviction Wednesday.
Earlier this month, Nour said at a press conference that he might decide not to run in this round of the presidential race even if he is pardoned.
Last year the Court of Cassation dismissed an appeal for a retrial in the case of the Ghad Party proxies, which he was accused of forging in 2005.
The court supported a previous verdict, issued by the Criminal Court that sentenced him to five years in prison shortly following the 2005 presidential election, in a case widely perceived as politically-motivated as he came a distant second to then-president Hosni Mubarak in the first multi-candidate presidential election in the country.
Nour was released in 2009 on health grounds but the charges were not dropped even after the uprising that ousted Mubarak last year.
When the retrial was refused, he claimed that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) had intervened in the outcome of the verdict.
“The general assembly, held today, voted in favor of Nour to run for Egypt’s top office giving him 55 votes,” Mohamed Mostafa, leading member of Ghad El-Thawra, told Daily News Egypt.
According to Mostafa, Nour will submit his nomination papers at the headquarters of the Presidential Electoral Committee (PEC) on April 6 after performing Friday prayers at Al-Azhar, as he did in 2005.
Mona Makram Ebeid, leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party who attended Thursday’s press conference to support Nour, said that he has a good chance of winning the presidential race.
“He is a civilian with a long political history that is full of struggle against the former regime,” she told reporters.
Ebeid added that Nour has already established a strong base in various provinces, making it easy for him to catch up with other candidates.
Meanwhile, Justice Hatem Begato, Secretary-General of the PEC, said that the candidacy of lawyer Mortada Mansour was rejected Wednesday pending completion of his application documents.
Mansour told reporters that only his financial disclosure document is missing, stressing that he will officially resubmit his papers on Saturday.
He has yet to collect the 30,000 endorsements necessary to make him eligible for candidacy.
Presidential hopefuls who are not members of established parties represented in parliament must collect the signatures of 30 parliamentarians or 30,000 eligible voters from at least 15 governorates in order to qualified as candidates.
According to the official Middle East News Agency (MENA), lawyer Ahmed Mortada Mansour said that his father received a letter from the Political Parties’ Affairs Committee that allows him to run on behalf of Egypt’s National Party in which he is a member.
He added that Ahmed Awad Al-Sa’idi, who submitted his candidacy papers on behalf of the same party, has no capacity to do so, pointing out that the party notified the PEC that it did not field any candidate before March 26.
Begato said that when Mansour completes his papers, the committee will decide which of the two candidates will represent the party.
“Al-Sa’idi is a fraud and we filed legal complaints against him for using the name of Egypt’s National Party. We will nominate Mansour if General Omar Soliman decides not to run,” said Islam El-Chopri, head of the youth’s general secretariat at the party.
The PEC announced that about 1,134 citizens have picked up application documents so far, but that only six have officially submitted the required documents: El-Sa’idi, Abu El-Ezz El-Hariry of the Popular Alliance Socialist Party, Hossam Khierallah of the Democratic Peace Party, Mohamed Fawzy of the Democratic Generation Party, Amr Moussa, the first independent candidate who submitted more than 30,000 endorsements and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh who submitted his papers Thursday, including more than 40,000 endorsements.
Registration for candidacy began on March 10 and will end on April 8. The election is slated for May 23-24.
The PEC has asked the Passports, Immigration and Nationality Authority to investigate whether any of the potential candidates, their parents or their wives are dual citizens.
Meanwhile, the campaign of presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abou Ismail denied that his mother holds American nationality, saying “that what has been reported in this regard is part of a rumors war to distort his image.”
Abou Ismail is expected to submit his nomination papers today.
But not all presidential hopefuls have found it easy to fulfill the nomination requirements.
Campaigners for the youngest presidential hopeful, Khaled Aly, said they faced many obstacles, especially at notary offices around the country where supporters were refused the right to issue powers of attorney unless they paid bribes.