Cairo: The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt`s most
powerful political group, says it is considering running its
own candidate in upcoming presidential elections, dropping its
previous decision to avoid direct participation in the race.
The group appears to be playing one of its last cards in
a power struggle against the ruling military council, after it
failed to force the military to replace its Cabinet with a new
one appointed by the Islamist-dominated Parliament.
If a Brotherhood fields a candidate and wins the
presidency, the group would control the two main branches of
power. In parliamentary elections, the first since a popular
uprising unseated President Hosni Mubarak last year; it won
nearly half the seats.
Since then, the Brotherhood has sought to allay fears of
local liberals as well as Egypt`s Western allies about an
Islamist takeover by saying it would not field its own
candidate for president.
Elections are set for May 23-24. That appears to have
changed. Mahmoud Hussein, the Brotherhood`s general secretary,
told a news agency yesterday that his group has been
"forced to consider the option of fielding a candidate from
its own ranks."
Besides rejecting its demand for a new Cabinet, Hussein
charged that the generals are working behind the scenes to
persuade presidential candidates to turn down Brotherhood
"When we reach out to some people, they either refuse
because they feel they are not up to the mission or they come
under pressure from the military council," he said. He
declined to give names.
Another factor is that younger Brotherhood members are
disobeying the group`s leadership by supporting a former
Brotherhood leader, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who was expelled
from the movement after he announced his decision to join the
Abolfotoh, a strong presidential hopeful, also has the
backing of some liberals, who see him as a reformer. For the
Muslim Brotherhood to field a candidate after expelling
Abolfotoh for defying its ban on running would be seen as
double standards, said Essam Sultan, a lawmaker from the
Wasat, or Centrist, party.