Disqualified Candidate Al-Shater: Democracy in “Danger”

A leading figure in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, who has been barred from presidential race , has said that progress towards democracy is in danger.

Khairat Al Shater said he feared the possibility of a rigged election. Egyptians will elect a successor to Hosni Mubarak in two stages of voting in May and June.

Al Shater had been considered a strong candidate to become the next president.

He is one of 10 candidates disqualified from standing by Egypt’s Higher Presidential Election Commission for a variety of reasons, in his case because of a disputed past conviction.

Al Shater said the Brotherhood would increase its pressure, both inside and outside parliament, to ensure that the transition to democracy goes ahead.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party controls nearly half the seats in parliament.

It has confirmed that it is backing its second-choice candidate, Mohamed Al Mursi, in the presidential vote.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne, in Cairo, says Mursi is not considered as strong a candidate as Shater, and it is possible he might not even make the final round of the election, let alone win it outright.

The first round of voting is scheduled on 23 and 24 May, after which there is expected to be a run-off between the top two candidates in June.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which assumed presidential powers after Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down by an uprising last year, is due to hand over to the new president on 1 July.