muslim brotherhood_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Ali Jarekji / Reuters)
CAIRO - A senior member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood said he would run for president as an independent, a move that could draw votes from backers of the Islamist group that has said it will not field a candidate.
REUTERS:Muslim Brotherhood to contest half of Egyptian parliamentEgyptians vote overwhelmingly for constitutional reforms
Secular groups and the West are concerned by how much power the Brotherhood may gain after the first elections since the toppling of president Hosni Mubarak. Decades of authoritarian rule has curbed the development of potential rivals.
Egypt's biggest Islamist movement had sought to assuage fears by saying it would not seek the presidency in polls due by early next year; nor would it pursue a majority in September parliamentary polls, contesting only 50 percent of seats.
But Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh, a reformist leading member of the group, told Reuters:
"I will run as an independent candidate in the coming presidential elections. I am not a member of any party now."
Abul Futuh said his move did not mean the Brotherhood had changed tack.
"The Brotherhood as a group is not competing for the presidency and is
now separating its mandates, a move I had called for four years ago," he
said, a reference to a new political party the Brotherhood has set up.
Under Mubarak, the group fielded candidates as independents in
elections, skirting a ban on its political activities and maintaining a
nationwide organization others lacked.
The military council, in charge until a new president is elected, has said Egypt will not become an Iran-style theocracy.
A poll published on April 22 in the staterun Ahram newspaper showed Abul
Futuh and outgoing Arab League chief Amr Moussa, with the highest voter
support at 20 percent, while Mohamed ElBaradei, a retired U.N.
diplomat, had 12 percent support. A senior Brotherhood member said Abul
Futuh's decision was personal and the group would not back his
candidacy. "Abul Futuh's decision counters the Brotherhood's official
decision," said Sobhi Saleh, a leading Brotherhood member in Alexandria.