Three leading candidates appeal ban from Egypt's presidential race

Three candidates for the presidency in Egypt have filed appeals against the electoral commission’s decision to disqualify them from the coming election. Their appeals will be reviewed imminently by the commission, before it releases the final list of candidates on 26 April, just a month before the vote.

The presidential election commission barred three of the five front-runners and seven others in the race for Egyptian president, on various technical grounds, a month before the voting begins.

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, were banned from running after a decision taken by the commission on 14 April.

The electoral body disqualified Suleiman because he failed to reach the required 2,000 notarised endorsements from each of 15 provinces, falling short by 31 in Asyut Province, located some 400 kms south of the capital.

The candidacy of Abu Ismail was rejected because his mother was a United States citizen, while Shater’s disqualification relates to a conviction for money-laundering in a 2007 political trial.

If Shater’s appeal is rejected he said he would endorse the Brotherhood’s second candidate, Mohamed el-Mursi, chairman of the group’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party.

Suleiman, who was a key player in Mubarak’s administration and retains strong ties with the country’s intelligence services, had been a surprise last-minute entry into the race. Seen by many as inextricably linked to the old regime, tens of thousands of Islamists demonstrated in opposition to his candidacy in Cairo on 13 April.