Egypt’ Ruling Army ratifies Law on Presidential Bid Ban

It was unclear if the law passed by the Islamist-led parliament would take effect in time to block the presidential bid of Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed prime minister in the last days of Mubarak’s rule and served for a short time after his ouster.

Egypt’s ruling army has approved a law barring top officials from Hosni Mubarak’s era running for president, a newspaper website said yesterday, but it may not stop the candidacy of his last prime minister.

It was unclear if the law passed by the Islamist-led parliament would take effect in time to block the presidential bid of Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed prime minister in the last days of Mubarak’s rule and served for a short time after his ouster.

The development adds a further twist to a turbulent period in the run up to the first real presidential race in Egypt’s history, marking the final step before the ruling generals hand power to a new president by July 1. Voting starts on May 23-24.

The row over who may run has drawn protests from supporters of two Islamist candidates who have been disqualified, adding uncertainty to Egypt’s transition to democracy. Mubarak’s former vice president also has been excluded.

Shafiq, who like Mubarak served as air force commander and held a cabinet post for years, has been criticized by Islamists, liberals and others who see his campaign as a bid by the army and former Mubarak allies to roll back gains of the uprising.

The website of the state newspaper Al-Ahram reported that the ruling military council had ratified the law and “sent its approval to parliament”. It did not give a source.

The report noted that if the law was issued before the election committee’s announcement on Thursday of the final list of candidates, it would lead to Shafiq’s disqualification.

But the report also cited a legal expert who said that after the deadline, the committee’s list of eligible candidates could not be challenged, according to rules outlined in the interim constitution. In that case, Shafiq would stay in the race.

A report on another newspaper website, Youm al-Sabaa, said the army had approved the law but it would be announced in an official gazette on Thursday to take effect on Friday, a day after the list is due to be announced, allowing Shafiq to run.

There was no immediate official comment on the reports.

The legislation, an amendment to a law governing political rights, covers anyone who served in a list of top positions in government and the ruling party during Mubarak’s last decade in power.

The list does not include the position of minister, so it does not threaten a bid by Amr Moussa, who served as Mubarak’s foreign minister in the 1990s and then Arab League chief.

Mubarak’s former spy chief Omar Suleiman, who also briefly served as vice president, has been barred from running, as have two Islamist candidates, who had been seen as front-runners.

The main candidates still in the race, besides Shafiq and Moussa, are Islamist Abdol Moneim Abol Fotouh and the candidate backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Mursi, according to Reuters.

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