Egypt reinstates Mubarak PM Shafiq in final list of presidential candidates

The head of Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC), Farouk Sultan, announced the final list of 13 candidates who will be permitted to run for the presidency. Originally, 23 candidates registered, but 10 have been disqualified. On Tuesday, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was barred from running but was reinstated on Wednesday after submitting an ...

AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images
AFP/Getty Images

The head of Egypt's Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC), Farouk Sultan, announced the final list of 13 candidates who will be permitted to run for the presidency. Originally, 23 candidates registered, but 10 have been disqualified. On Tuesday, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was barred from running but was reinstated on Wednesday after submitting an appeal. The elections commission did not explain the reversal. Shafiq was initially disqualified according to the Disenfranchisement Law which blocks candidates who had held high posts in the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak in the final 10 years of his rule. Shafiq contested the law's constitutionality. While Shafiq is being allowed to stand when the first round of voting begins on May 23 and 24, he may be retroactively disqualified, as the final decision on his appeal will not be decided by the Constitutional Court Commission Authority for 45 days. Shafiq is a popular non-Islamist candidate, and is supported by pro-Mubarak Egyptians. According to political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah, "His entry back into the race will certainly appease remnants of Mubarak's old order. It will also allow the army to breathe a sigh of relief because, of all the presidential candidates, Shafiq is the one who understands the military best."

Syria

An explosion in the Masha at-Tayyar district in the city of Hama killed up to 70 people. The Syrian government and opposition activists have offered conflicting accounts of the blast. According to Syrian state media, 16 people were killed in an accidental explosion in a house that was used as a bomb factory by "armed terrorist groups." However, activists have reported several houses have been destroyed by what they claim could have been a Scud missile attack, killing up to 13 children and 16 women. The BBC's Jim Muir reported that the magnitude of devastation could not likely have been achieved by conventional shelling. The opposition Syrian National Council called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting "so that it can issue a resolution to protect civilians in Syria." France has recommended stronger action by the United Nations, calling for a Chapter 7 mandate that would allow for the use of force if President Bashar al-Assad's forces do not pull back according to Kofi Annan's peace plan.

The head of Egypt’s Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC), Farouk Sultan, announced the final list of 13 candidates who will be permitted to run for the presidency. Originally, 23 candidates registered, but 10 have been disqualified. On Tuesday, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was barred from running but was reinstated on Wednesday after submitting an appeal. The elections commission did not explain the reversal. Shafiq was initially disqualified according to the Disenfranchisement Law which blocks candidates who had held high posts in the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak in the final 10 years of his rule. Shafiq contested the law’s constitutionality. While Shafiq is being allowed to stand when the first round of voting begins on May 23 and 24, he may be retroactively disqualified, as the final decision on his appeal will not be decided by the Constitutional Court Commission Authority for 45 days. Shafiq is a popular non-Islamist candidate, and is supported by pro-Mubarak Egyptians. According to political analyst Nabil Abdel Fattah, "His entry back into the race will certainly appease remnants of Mubarak’s old order. It will also allow the army to breathe a sigh of relief because, of all the presidential candidates, Shafiq is the one who understands the military best."

Syria

An explosion in the Masha at-Tayyar district in the city of Hama killed up to 70 people. The Syrian government and opposition activists have offered conflicting accounts of the blast. According to Syrian state media, 16 people were killed in an accidental explosion in a house that was used as a bomb factory by "armed terrorist groups." However, activists have reported several houses have been destroyed by what they claim could have been a Scud missile attack, killing up to 13 children and 16 women. The BBC’s Jim Muir reported that the magnitude of devastation could not likely have been achieved by conventional shelling. The opposition Syrian National Council called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting "so that it can issue a resolution to protect civilians in Syria." France has recommended stronger action by the United Nations, calling for a Chapter 7 mandate that would allow for the use of force if President Bashar al-Assad’s forces do not pull back according to Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

Headlines  

  • A week ahead of the second round of Iran’s parliamentary elections, 130 candidates have begun campaigning in a vote that is expected to further weaken President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
  • The United States has broadened the purview of the C.IA. and military to carry out drone attacks on suspected al Qaeda militants in Yemen.

Arguments & Analysis 

Elections law under attack‘ (Osama Al Sharif, The Jordan Times)

"A sense of despondency and frustration has taken over Jordan’s political activists following the unveiling recently of the draft of a new elections law. After months of deliberations, the government of Prime Minister Awn Khasawneh finally sent the draft law to the Lower House for approval. But reactions to the proposed legislation have been hostile, not only from the country’s Islamists, who make up the bulk of the opposition, but also from loyalists. The Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), were quick to dismiss the new law, which introduces a mixed voting system, as a deformed copy of the notorious single vote system and its variants, under which previous parliamentary polls were held. But surprisingly, criticism of the proposed law came from representatives of tribes, Jordanians of Palestinian origin and even minority groups like Christians and Circassians."

Mind the neighbors‘ (Anne-Marie Slaughter, Al Jazeera English)

"The conventional wisdom last week on whether Syria would comply with former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s ceasefire plan was that it was up to Russia. We were reverting to Cold War politics, in which the West was unwilling to use force and Russia was willing to keep arming and supporting its client. Thus, Russia held the trump card: the choice of how much pressure it was willing to put on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to comply with the plan. If this view were correct, Iran would surely be holding an equally powerful hand. Annan, after all, travelled to Tehran as well. Traditional balance-of-power geopolitics, it seems, is alive and well. But this is, at best, a partial view that obscures as much as it reveals. In particular, it misses the crucial and growing importance of regional politics and institutions."

Egypt’s Chaotic Election’ (The New York Times)

"Egypt’s democratic transition is in turmoil again as the country heads into next month’s crucial election for its first president since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak. Egypt’s military-run government is running out of time to guarantee a fair and credible vote. Authorities need to finalize the list of candidates and decide where polling stations will be located, whether citizens must vote at specific stations, what rules the monitors must follow and how television airtime will be apportioned among candidates. And all this information needs to be widely publicized."

 –Jennifer Parker & Mary Casey

<p>Mary Casey-Baker is the editor of Foreign Policy’s Middle East Daily Brief, as well as the assistant director of public affairs at the Project on Middle East Political Science and assistant editor of The Monkey Cage blog for the Washington Post. </p> Twitter: @casey_mary

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