The surprise Friday’s announcement of the presidential candidacy of senior Mubarak regime official, Omar Suleiman, has created a new twist in a race which is already full of twists. Hundreds of Egyptian Internet users have immediately expressed their amazement and many their dismay – to see the former Vice President and Chief of Intelligence returns to the front of the political scene after the January-February 2011 revolt.
The announcement was even more unexpected after on Thursday Suleiman looked certain to fail in obtaining the necessary support, as nominations end Sunday.
But in a statement released by the official MENA news agency, the former aide of Hosni Mubarak said he answered “a popular call”.
During the day, hundreds of people demonstrated in a Cairo neighborhood to call for his candidacy. “It would be an honor for Egypt if Omar Suleiman is the president,” said one demonstrator.
Mr. Suleiman promised “every effort possible (…) in a hope to achieve change, fulfill the objectives of the revolution and materialize the hopes of the Egyptian people.”
Some of his supporters gathered in the district of Abbassiya, began to disperse in late Friday afternoon to get the required number of supporters. Candidates need 30,000 signatures of voters, or the support of thirty members of a party represented in Parliament.
Mr. Suleiman’s candidacy is the latest twist in a long process dotted with twists.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the leading political force, had already changed the political landscape on March 31 by announcing that they had a presidential candidate despite vowing not to do so. The powerful Brotherhood presented its “No. 2”, Khairat Shater, a wealthy businessman considered the strategist of the Movement.
In recent days, there are reports that the Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail could be dropped out of the race because of the U.S. citizenship of his mother. These news rocked the country. The electoral law stipulates that a candidate for the presidency should only be Egyptian, as well as his parents and his wife.
Thousands of supporters of Abu Ismail marched through the capital on Friday to say “no manipulation” and demanded that their candidate remains in the race.
The first round of Egypt’s presidential elections will be held on 23 and 24 May The final list of candidates shall be published on April 26.