While news headlines proclaim Egypt’s “first free election in 5000 years,” the final hours of the presidential campaign are giving some observers the impression that what is transpiring is more of the same old Egyptian politics.
As reported previously for The New American, the two frontrunners in the Egyptian presidential race are less closely aligned to the Islamist agenda than either the Muslim Brotherhood or their Salafist allies would like. When an elections committee removed several candidates from the race based on prior criminal convictions or other disqualifications, Islamists took to the streets because several of their favored candidates were among those eliminated. (For example, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate — Khairat el-Shater — was removed from the ballot because of his Mubarak-era convictions for money laundering and terrorism.) The violence in the streets which followed in the aftermath of the committee removing the candidates raised concerns about whether the elections would actually take place on schedule.
Now, with balloting taking place and the election results likely to be released next week, the two frontrunners are men with a background which may fall short of the expectations of many Islamist extremists. According to an article for The Mail (Britain), the two leading candidates were part of the political system under the ousted former leader, Hosni Mubarak, whose government fell during last year’s “Arab Spring,” but their standing has not excluded the Islamists from still having a chance for victory:
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Photo: Former U.S. first lady Rosalynn Carter, left, speaks with a poll worker inside a polling station in the Sayeda Aisha neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2012.: AP Images