Arab League chief Amr Moussa Egypt 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Abdallah Dalsh)
Six presidential hopefuls say they want Egypt’s first free election for head of
state to be held in April, far earlier than the timetable envisaged by the
ruling military council.
RELATED:Egypt: Muslim Brothers, others threaten election boycott
Egypt’s generals have not set a date, but under
a timetable that involves a parliamentary vote followed by drawing up a new
constitution, analysts said the presidential race may not happen until the end
of 2012 or early 2013.
Many Egyptians suspect that the military council,
which took control after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office, wants to hold on
to power from behind the scenes even after handing over day-to- day affairs to
the civilian government.
The military denies any such intentions. Field
Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday dismissed talk that the military
might propose a candidate for the presidency.
Tantawi “denied the
existence of a candidate for the military establishment” in the presidential
election, the official Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported. “We should not
waste time discussing rumors,” it quoted Tantawi as saying.
this drag on, so that we don’t lose all hope,” Hazim Salah Abou Ismail, one of
the six presidential hopefuls, told a news conference, where representatives of
the group announced their demands.
He said a speedy presidential vote was
important because the military council would still hold presidential powers,
such as forming a government, even after the parliamentary vote.
group, which includes former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, issued a statement on
Wednesday that they wanted the election to be held on April 1 so the new
president could take office on April 20.
The group demanded the
parliamentary vote also be speeded up. Voting to the lower house starts on
November 28, but voting for both houses will be staggered so it won’t be
completed until March. Parliament then chooses the assembly that will draw up
the constitution, further delaying a presidential vote.
Under the current
timetable, parliamentary candidates must submit their nominations between
October 12 and 18.
Egyptian media have speculated about several names
that might have military backing, including Omar Suleiman, former intelligence
chief and briefly Mubarak’s vice president.
Meanwhile, the Wafd party – a
comparatively liberal, secular faction that is among the most influential of
Egypt’s democratic movements – has scrapped an electoral alliance with the
Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s largest political force, because it wants to
field more candidates than the tie-up would have allowed.
The Freedom and
Justice Party (FJP), the Brotherhood’s political wing, and Wafd led an alliance
of 34 parties from across the political spectrum that planned to coordinate
lists of candidates for the first elections since Mubarak’s ouster.
party’s higher committee unanimously decided to contest elections in a separate
list, and member parties of the alliance should choose to join either [the FJP
or Wafd] lists,” said Essam Sheha, a member of Wafd’s higher
Tensions have emerged between liberals and Islamists over the
planned new constitution.
Islamic groups including the Brotherhood staged
a mass protest on July 29 demanding the application of Shari’a
Fourteen Liberal and Leftist groups have formed a coalition called
the Egyptian Bloc calling for a civil state in which the principles of Shari’a
are nonetheless recognized as the “main source of legislation.”
leadership has faced internal opposition from party members and criticism from
liberal groups over the alliance with the Brotherhood. Two members of its higher
committee resigned from their posts.
Sheha denied that the decision to
quit the electoral alliance was based on an ideological dispute.
withdrew from the electoral alliance because we had a lot of candidates and the
available places in the list weren’t enough,” he said.
the Brotherhood would continue in other areas, he said, and a meeting of the
alliance would take place on Saturday.