CAIRO - The race for the Egyptian presidency has been redefined by the disqualification of Hosni Mubarak's spy chief and prominent Islamists, including a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and a popular Salafi cleric.
The developments add to the turbulence of a transition to democracy that has been punctuated by spasms of violence and political rivalries between once-banned Islamists, secular-minded reformists and remnants of the Mubarak order that was overthrown in last year's popular uprising.
Winners from the drama include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh. Both have spent longer on the campaign trail than most but were eclipsed by late comers to the race who were disqualified on Tuesday.
The losers include the Brotherhood, the biggest party in parliament which decided at the last moment to throw its hat into the ring but whose chances appear to have been undermined by the disqualification of its first choice candidate.
Khairat al-Shater, a millionaire businessman and the deputy Brotherhood leader, is now out of the picture, disqualified on the grounds of a criminal conviction passed down during Mubarak's rule, when the group was banned.
In his place, the group will field Mohamed Mursi, head of its political party who had filed the official paperwork to run just in case Shater was disqualified.
"The group and party announce they are continuing in the competition for the post of the head state with their candidate Dr. Mohamed Mursi," the Brotherhood said in a statement.