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Anarchy on the Eve of Egyptian Presidential Elections

Three presidential candidates are among hundreds of people who have been attacked over the past year as Egypt prepares to vote.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 5/23/2012, 1:12 PM

Egyptian presidential hopefuls Amr Moussa (R) and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh
Egyptian presidential hopefuls Amr Moussa (R) and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh
Reuters

At least three presidential candidates are among hundreds of people who have been attacked by armed men over the past year as Egypt prepares to vote for a president for the first time since former President Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power more than a year ago.

The 13 candidates set to square off at the polls on Wednesday have very different views about how to get the country back on track - but they all agree that something needs to be done.

Total anarchy appears to be ruling the country since the Arab Spring uprisings turned the country upside down in the "January 25" Egyptian Revolution that was launched in Cairo's Tahrir Square last year.

Police have taken little interest in enforcing the law, international media have reported, noting that vigilantism is generally the order of the day. In local villages, violent crime has risen exponentially, with relatives of the victims taking revenge in kind.

Presidential candidates on both ends of the spectrum are offering their solutions to the problem. Islamists explain that a lack of religion is behind the anarchy, and militarists promising to restore control by enforcing the law with a “strong hand.”

However, the lack of order is beginning to result in a backlash against the Islamist-controlled Parliament, reports The New York Times. An increasing number of Egyptians are starting to express support for Amr Moussa, former head of the Cairo-based Arab League and and a former foreign minister under Hosni Mubarak.

The most recent electoral survey showed that Moussa is running in second place. Topping the poll with 32 percent of the vote is Abd Al-Men'em Abul Fotouh, who broke away from the Brotherhood. He is followed by the former Arab League chief, who is showing a following of 28 percent. The Muslim Brotherhood candidate, former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, currently is farther behind, with 14 percent.

All three candidates appear to be committed to amending the country's 1979 peace treaty with Israel.  "I think it is quite obvious that the populist thing to do is to bash Israel as strongly as you can. The more you bash Israel, the more points you gain, regardless of whether you are Islamist or secular," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the London Telegraph earlier this week.