CAIRO – A former deputy of ousted President Hosni Mubarak announced his presidential candidacy Friday, shaking up an already-heated race that is emerging as a contest between two longtime rivals – former regime officials and Islamists who have surged in influence.
Omar Suleiman, one of the most powerful figures of Mubaraks regime, had said earlier this week that he would not run. But he said he changed his mind after hundreds of people rallied in Cairo to support a bid.
The announcement drew outrage from youth activists who spearheaded the popular uprising that toppled Mubarak last year and have since been disappointed by the continued influence of members of his ex-regime. Liberals and revolutionaries have been largely squeezed out of the presidential race. Some have vowed to boycott the May 23-24 balloting altogether.
I find it incomprehensible that one of the top figures of the old regime, who should be on trial right now as a criminal, is actually considering running for president, said Mohammad Radwan, who took part in last years mass protests.
The 75-year-old former general must get 30,000 signatures by Sundays official filing deadline or the backing of at least 30 parliamentarians in order to run.
Suleiman served as Egypts intelligence chief for 18 years at a time when the regime was accused of carrying out torture and human rights abuses against dissenters.
That makes him suspect in the eyes of many Egyptians, who had hoped to stamp out the old regime altogether and usher in a democracy.
A win for Suleiman would largely keep control of Egypt in the hands of the military. Egypts last four presidents have all been military men.
The presidential vote is set to take place end of May.