By Konstantin Garibov
On May 23 and 24, Egypt will elect a new president. On April 30, pre-election campaigning started.
Some experts say that if the elections took place right now, they would most likely have been won by Amr Moussa, former Secretary General of the League of Arab States. At present, he is the most popular candidate.
Mr. Moussa is supported mainly by those who want stability and are worried about the increasing influence of Islamists in Egypt.
The second most popular candidate is Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who has an education of a doctor and can be characterized as a moderate Islamist. Earlier, Abdel Fotouh occupied a high post in an Islamist organization called “The Muslim Brotherhood”. However, when he announced that he would run for presidency, he was expelled from the Brotherhood. At present, Mr. Fotouh is supported by an even more radical Islamist group, known as Salafia.
At present, a party formed by the Salafia movement, called Al-Nour, has the second largest number of seats in the Egyptian parliament.
After expelling Mr. Fotouh, the Moslem Brotherhood nominated Muhammad Mursi as their candidate for presidency. According to polls, at present, Mr. Mursi is the third most popular candidate.
Another candidate is Ahmed Shafik, who was the last prime minister under President Hosni Mubarak. At first, Mr. Shafik was not allowed to take part in the presidential race, for there exists a law in Egypt today which bans those who occupied high posts in the Mubarak government from running for presidency. However, Mr. Shafik appealed to a court, and the court made a decision in his favor.
Still, experts say that Ahmad Shafik has little chances to win.
“I believe that, most likely, the elections will be won by an Islamist,” Russian analyst Dmitry Bondarenko says.
“Radical forces are evidently obtaining more and more influence in Egypt,” Mr. Bondarenko says. “A number of laws, which the Egyptian parliament adopted recently, are evidence of that. The influence of Islamist forces in Egypt will most likely increase in the nearest future, they will put more pressure on the country’s authorities. Islamists want practically all spheres of life in Egypt to be ruled by shariat norms – and this idea is at present backed by many Egyptians.”
As you probably remember, Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak resigned on February 11, 2011, forced to do so by mass protests. He handed his power over to some kind of a provisional government, consisting mostly of military people and called The Supreme Council of Armed Forcers.
It is expected that this transitional period will end on July 30, when the Supreme Council will hand the power over to the newly elected president and his cabinet.