Egypt's election commission has barred 10 candidates from the upcoming presidential race, among them the three top runners.
“The commission has disqualified candidates because they do not fill one or more of the required conditions,” said a statement issued Saturday to the media.
Former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, appointed by ex-President Hosni Mubarak as vice president in the dying days of his administration, is among the candidates nixed from running in the May election.
The Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) excluded Suleiman allegedly on the basis of the geographical distribution of the signatures on his candidacy registration, according to the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.
The regulations call for a candidate's application to include a minimum of 1,000 signatures from 15 separate governorates in order to qualify for the race.
Also barred was formerly outlawed Muslim Brotherhood head Khairat al-Shater, fielded by the organization after the Islamist group had vowed not to enter a candidate into the race. Shater, released from prison in March 2011, was disqualified on the basis of a law stating candidates can only run for office six years after being pardoned or freed, PEC official Tarek Abul Atta told the AFP news agency.
Conservative candidate Sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail was also disqualified, according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper. The commission barred Ismail because his mother holds a second nationality – his mother had been a U.S. citizen -- a violation of electoral rules, Atta said.
Newspapers are expected to publish a complete list of the disqualified candidates within the next day or two.
The candidates were given 48 hours to appeal the decision, handed down by five senior judges. There is no higher court.