CAIRO,(Reuters) – Aides of ousted Hosni Mubarak’s former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman said on Friday he planned to contest the presidential election, reversing a statement earlier this week that he would not run.
Omar Suleiman, 74, was Mubarak’s close associate for decades and served as his vice president briefly during the uprising that forced him to step down a year ago.
Hundreds rallied in Cairo on Friday to press Suleiman to join the race, carrying banners reading “Suleiman, save Egypt” and “We need you Suleiman”. Commentators say he would appeal to the country’s military and voters worried about stability.
In a statement attributed to Suleiman circulated by campaign aides, the man who was the director of military intelligence and the General Intelligence Service vowed to run if he could get the necessary registration of 30,000 supporters by Saturday.
“I have been shaken by your strong position,” said the statement, addressed to “citizens of Egypt”. “The call you have directed is an order and I am a soldier who has never disobeyed an order.
“Your call and your faith in my ability is an honour,” it added. “I promise to change my position if I can complete the registrations by Saturday.”
Campaign aides have been pushing Suleiman to run and have leaked similar reports to the media during the last month. Suleiman himself has not spoken to the media directly and it could not be immediately verified whether the statement was written by him.
“Suleiman decided to run because anyone who loves this country has been begging him to do so. He has even had to switch off his phone because of the number of calls he was receiving to convince him to run,” campaign aide Saab Abbasy told Reuters.
Egyptians vote on May 23 and 24 in what is billed as Egypt’s first free and fair