By Sherine El Madany /Reuters
CAIRO: An Egyptian court will hear a suit seeking to prevent Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief and his last prime minister from running for the presidency, a judicial source said on Monday.
Omar Suleiman, 74, who served for years as Mubarak’s head of military intelligence and General Intelligence Service and was vice president in the dying days of his rule, joined the race on Sunday, fueling anger among activists and rival Islamists and liberals contesting for the top post.
A lawyer filed the case to have Suleiman barred from running because he served under the ousted leader. Two other similar cases were filed to the public prosecutor, the judicial source said. An administrative court in Cairo will hold its first hearing on Tuesday.
Another former figure, Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister and a former air force commander, is also running in the country’s first free presidential vote, scheduled to take place over two rounds in May and June.
The case targets both Suleiman and Shafiq.
Suleiman’s 11th-hour decision to run for president showed he still wields political clout by collecting around 49,000 signatures of eligible voters, exceeding the 30,000 required.
His opponents see him as a symbol of a harsh security regime and a threat to Islamists, who were routinely harassed and arrested during Mubarak’s era, and to the liberals who spearheaded Mubarak’s fall. But his candidacy might appeal to some Egyptians hoping for an end to political instability.
His decision to join the race came shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist movement long suppressed by Mubarak and now in control of a parliament majority, broke a pledge not to field a candidate and nominated its deputy leader.
In an interview with Reuters on Sunday, the Brotherhood’s candidate, Khairat Al-Shater, denounced Suleiman’s bid for his former boss’ job and called it “an insult” to the revolution.