Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Egyptian parliamentary sources, along with local media, yesterday revealed that Egyptian political parties close to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces [SCAF] are pressuring the Egyptian military to put forward a presidential candidate. This takes place during a fraught electoral atmosphere during which time the Egyptian Higher Committee for Presidential Elections received the nomination documents of a number of presidential candidates, including Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater.
SCAF has ruled Egypt since the collapse of the Mubarak regime last year, but became subject to increasing criticism due to their methods of managing the transitional phase, which led to the rise of hardline religious trends and their dominance of the parliamentary elections. Many in Egypt fear the Islamists also gaining control of the presidency, particularly after the Muslim Brotherhood announced the candidacy of its presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater, which has perhaps led to the calls for the Egyptian military to put forward its own presidential candidate.
According to an Egyptian parliamentary source, political elements close to SCAF are calling for SCAF chairman Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi to run for president, whilst the Reform and Development party have also announced that they are discussing supporting the nomination of either Egyptian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Sami Anan or former Vice President General Omar Suleiman, who was also head of the Intelligence Services during the Mubarak era.
Reform and Development Party Vice President, Rami Lakah, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that there are a number of respected military figures “who we may ask to stand as the [Reform and Development] party’s candidate at the presidential elections, like SCAF deputy leader General Sami Anan or former vice president General Omar Suleiman.”
The Reform and Development party is led by MP Mohamed Esmat Sadat, nephew of former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. Tariq El-Kholy, a member of the Reform and Development party’s political bureau, revealed that one of the party’s choices at the forthcoming election is to “support a military candidate”, stressing that “the party wants a president who is a statesman who can immediately manage the affairs to the country in the coming period.”
He added that the Reform and Development party has a number of other choices, including putting forward a presidential candidate from within its own ranks, or lending its support to an already declared presidential candidate.
Leaked reports also appeared in local Egyptian media claiming that Egyptian political parties and figures had called on SCAF to put forward Field Marshall Tantawi as a presidential candidate. The Egyptian “Al-Masry Al-Youm” newspapers carried a special report quoting an unnamed political source who revealed that SCAF had received requests from political parties and figures to put forward Tantawi as a presidential candidate, after the Muslim Brotherhood announced its own presidential candidate.
“Al-Masry Al-Youm” claimed that a number of “public figures” had called on Field Marshall Tantawi to run for president in order to “rescue the civil state and protect it from the threats posed by a religious state, emphasizing social values and constants. This will protect the country’s cultural and ideological pluralism and confirm the rights of citizenship and equality between members of society.”
The “Al-Masry Al-Youm” report also claimed that should Tantawi decide to run for president, he would need the support of 30 MPs, as there is not sufficient time to collect the signatures of 30,000 Egyptian citizens from at least 15 Egyptian governorates, as required by law to run for president.
Dr. Salah Hassanbullah, head of the Egyptian Citizen Party, also told the Egyptian newspaper that “if the Field Marshall takes the decision to run [for president], we will gather the signatures of MPs, and form a parliamentary alliance to support his candidacy.”