By Heba Hesham
CAIRO: As the official deadline for submitting candidacy applications for the presidential race approaches, potential candidates are scrambling to get their foot in the door.
Rumors about the nomination of former vice president and former intelligence chief Omar Soliman have heated up the race, especially since Al-Ahram newspaper quoted former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq as saying that he may withdraw if Soliman nominates himself.
“All the application papers are ready, including around 60,000 endorsements that are being checked [by the campaign members] across the country’s provinces,” Shafiq said in an official statement about his own campaign.
Shafiq’s campaign members however refused to comment about the possibility of withdrawing, telling Daily News Egypt the campaign continues.
The fate of Salafi hopeful Hazem Salah Abou Ismail remains unclear as claims that his late mother held the American citizenship are still unconfirmed. While one TV host claimed her name was on the registered voters list in the US, Abou Ismail denied. The law mandates that candidates’ parents and spouses be Egyptian without having held any other nationality.
The candidate, who represents the ultraconservative stream of Islam, filed his candidacy documents last Friday accompanied by thousands of supporters.
Similar rumors about the nationality of other candidates and their parents have been the topic of discussion in media reports and TV shows.
Presidential hopeful and Islamic thinker Mohamed Selim El-Awa said in an interview aired live on CBC satellite channel that he has secured 30 endorsements by lawmakers in addition to his effort to collect 30,000 others.
El-Awa said that if he fails to collect the 30,000 endorsements he will depend on the backing of MPs who include members of Al-Wasat Party, Al-Nour Salafi Party, and some independent MPs.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s deputy leader Khairat Al-Shater is expected to submit his candidacy papers on Thursday. His nomination, announced last Saturday, has fueled speculations about the possible deals and confrontations with the military council, political groups and candidates.
Singer Saad El-Soghayyar headed Tuesday to the PEC headquarters to submit his alleged 30,000 endorsements, but the official Middle East News Agency (MENA) said PEC declined to accept his “incomplete application”.
The PEC listed the names of nine hopefuls who submitted their candidacy applications and are awaiting the final confirmation from PEC — the singer wasn’t one of them.
The hopefuls include former member of the Muslim Brotherhood group Abdel Moniem Abol Fotoh, Abou Ismail, former head of the Arab League Amr Moussa, Mahmoud Hossam El-Din Galal — all are running as independents.
Head of Al-Wafd Party El-Sayed El-Badawi officially declared the party’s endorsement of former head of the Arab League Amr Moussa for presidency.
“Moussa believes in the principles of Al-Wafd and its roots,” El-Badawi said in a statement released by the party Tuesday.
MENA also denied media reports rumoring the intention of Egyptian army Chief of Staff Sami Annan to run for president.
The hopefuls also included lawmaker Aboul Ezz El-Hariri representing the Popular Socialist Alliance Party, Ahmed Mohamed Awad Ali representing Egypt’s National Party, Mohamed Abdel Fattah Eissa representing El-Geel Party, Ahmed Hossam Khairallah, representing El-Salam Democratic Party, and Judge Hisham El-Bastawisi representing El-Tagammu Party.
The deadline for submitting papers is April 8. Other hopefuls are still collecting the required endorsements trying to make it on time.
The campaign of the youngest hopeful and rights activist Khalid Ali complained from problems with notary offices where supporters register powers of attorney, due to “bribes and intransigence from the side of the notary office employees”.
“Employees at the notary offices represent major obstacles to citizens who want to issue their endorsements for Ali and a stumbling block on the road of democracy demanded by society after Jan. 25,” Ali’s campaign said in an official statement.
“We are still having some problems with the notary offices in some provinces but we overcame them in others. But the problem is that there is financial and religious coercion to both employees of these offices and citizens to secure endorsements for the better known candidates and we refuse to do this because it goes against our ethics and principles,” spokesman of Ali’s campaign Adel Wasily told DNE Wednesday.
Ali will pick up the registration papers on Thursday but submit his application when he secures the 30,000 endorsements. The deadline is Sunday, April 8.
Ali’s campaign also said that he presented an official notification to the head of the Presidential Election Committee (PEC) to investigate a campaign called “I’m the President”.
The campaign’s billboards can be seen across Cairo’s highways and bridges. Ali has requested an investigation into the presidential hopeful behind it and the funding provided for this campaign.
First female presidential hopeful Bouthaina Kamel urged her Twitter followers to help her become the first female candidate in the first presidential race post-Jan.25.
“I still need 2,000 endorsements,” she said.
Meanwhile the Administrative Court slammed article 28 of the constitutional declaration stipulating that the decisions issued by PEC cannot be appealed, egynews.net reported Tuesday.
The court said in a verdict issued Tuesday that this article prevents the Administrative Court from practicing its role of supervising the PEC.
The court asserted in its verdict that the constitutional declaration was issued unilaterally by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces as only nine articles of the declaration’s 62 articles were approved by the people in a public referendum.
The article, the court believes, violates the right of citizens (in this case presidential candidates) to resort to a civilian court in case of a dispute over election results.
Critics believe that this will open the door for fraud in the upcoming election.