Omar Suleiman joined two other Egyptian presidential candidates Monday in filing
appeals against election commission orders disqualifying them from next month’s
The commission said Suleiman, a longtime intelligence
chief under deposed president Hosni Mubarak, was barred from running because he
had not accumulated enough voters’ signatures to register. His team had gathered
49,000 signatures in 15 provinces – more than the 30,000 needed – but the
commission said he had 1,000 votes too few in one province.
Brotherhood’s Khairat al-Shater and the even-harder-line Islamist Hazem Salah
Abu Ismail also filed appeals Monday. Their applications came two days after
they and eight other candidates were informed of their ineligibility to
In an interview published Saturday in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm
Al-Saba’a, Suleiman warned that Israel would view a Muslim Brotherhood president
in Cairo as an enemy.
“I suspect Israel thinks Egypt has become one of
its enemies,” he said. “Israel regards the Sinai Peninsula as insecure and
believes Egyptian territory is being used for rocket launching. Israel may
therefore consider returning to secure borders.”
Eight people were killed
last summer in a terror attack in southern Israel that had been launched from
Sinai, and earlier this month two rockets were fired from the area toward
Suleiman was Mubarak’s point man on ties with Israel and visited
the country many times. His reference to Israel on Saturday was the former spy
chief’s first since he announced his candidacy earlier this month.
possible Israel will confront us and use its national security as a pretext for
doing so,” he said in the interview.
“Israelis are experts in presenting
such excuses to the world.
If the Israelis reenter Sinai, they will not
be quick to leave again. Egypt could pay a heavy price if that
Suleiman told the paper that Egypt should pursue rapprochement
with the Hamas government of the Gaza Strip, but not at the expense of national
“Egypt should continue tightening its relationship with Hamas
but not at the expense of the country’s national interests, regional security
and peace that will all enable Egypt to further develop internally,” he
Thousands of Egyptians protested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday
against Suleiman’s run, making an Islamist show of strength against a symbol of
Mubarak’s old guard. Banners there showed Suleiman and Mubarak alongside the
Star of David and depicted both as agents of Israel, a perception stemming from
policies that included Egypt’s role in enforcing the blockade on Gaza.
an interview Sunday with Reuters, Suleiman said he wanted the presidency to stop
it from going to the Brotherhood but saw the Islamist group playing a vital role
in Egyptian politics.
“This is why they sought me, as a balance between
Islamists and civilian forces,” said Suleiman, who describes himself as a devout
Muslim but adds that Egyptians fear their country is being turned into a
The Muslim Brotherhood won nearly 50 percent of Egypt’s
parliamentary seats in elections earlier this year, with even stricter Salafist
Islamists taking another 25 percent.
“Many people felt that the state is
going to the Muslim Brotherhood – in parliament, in government and now the
presidency,” Suleiman said.
“They have the right to practice politics and
to have a role in society so long as it is within law and constitution,” he
added. “There is nothing to stop them from participating as ministers or deputy
prime minister or prime minister... I will base my choice on competence, not
Asked if he would trim the military’s role in Egypt,
he said: “Why would you reduce its role? Are we going to tell it not to defend
the state? ...Are we going to tell them not to become involved in any crisis
that happens in the state?” The powers of the next president are to be defined
by a constitution that has yet to be written. Suleiman said he supported the
idea of a presidential system but added: “I hope the president will not have
wide influence... so we do not go back to the system of one-man
Suleiman described his role in Mubarak’s administration as one
that dealt purely with external and security affairs, and not government, though
he said he had sometimes offered the former president advice on domestic
“I was not part of the previous administration. I was the head
of general intelligence and I took care of the Egyptian national security and my
work was all for Egyptian interests abroad,” he said. “I had nothing to do with
domestic affairs. My relationships were with spies and foreign
Reuters contributed to this report.