Egyptian presidential candidates lose disqualification appeal

Ten candidates have lost their appeal against disqualification from running in Egypt’s presidential elections, scheduled for 23 and 24 May.

The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) upheld its 14 April decision to bar ten of the 23 presidential hopefuls from the race on various technical grounds.

All ten disqualified candidates – three of whom were among the front-runners – appealed the electoral body’s decision on 15 April.

The three high profile figures included Hosni Mubarak's former intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, and two leading Islamists, Khairat el-Shater, the first nominee of the dominant mainstream Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, and ultraconservative Islamist, Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.

SPEC disqualified Suleiman because he fell short of the required 2,000 notarised endorsements from each of Egypt’s 15 provinces. The candidacy of Abu Ismail was rejected because his mother held a United States passport, while Shater’s disqualification relates to a conviction for money-laundering in a 2007 political trial.

Following Shater’s rejection the Muslim Brotherhood has confirmed that it will endorse its second candidate, Mohamed el-Mursi, chairman of the group’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

The other disqualified candidates include the head of the el-Ghad party Ayman Nour, famous for competing for the 2005 presidency against Mubarak, who later imprisoned him over suspect allegations of forgery.

Others banned from running for president are Mamdouh Outb, Ashraf Barouma, Hossam Khairat, Ibrahim Ghareeb, Ahmed Awad and Mortada Mansour.

The current front-runners in the race include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa – a popular figure among Egypt’s poorer voters – who launched his electoral campaign in the impoverished Ezbet El-Haggana area on the edge of Cairo on 18 April.

Another leading candidate is the moderate Islamist Abdul Moniem Abul Fotouh, a former Muslim Brotherhood leader, who could threaten the campaign of the Brotherhood’s first candidate Mursi, regarded by analysts as not having the same vote-pulling potential as the disqualified Shater.