Egypt Presidential Race Heats Up

The race for the Egyptian presidency is heating up, as political elements call for ruling general Tantawi to run.

Elad Benari ,

Hussein Tantawi
Hussein Tantawi

Egyptian political parties close to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) are pressuring the Egyptian military to put forward a presidential candidate, the London-based Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper reported on Tuesday.

The SCAF has ruled Egypt since the collapse of the Mubarak regime last year, but became subject to increasing criticism due to their methods of managing the transitional phase. The result has been a rise in the power of Islamists, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood.

Asharq Al-Awsat noted that many in Egypt fear the Islamists also gaining control of the presidency, particularly after the Muslim Brotherhood announced the candidacy of its presidential candidate. This has perhaps led to the calls for the Egyptian military to put forward its own presidential candidate, the report noted.

The newspaper cited an Egyptian parliamentary source who said political elements close to SCAF are calling for SCAF chairman Field Marshall Hussein Tantawi to run for president, while the Reform and Development party have also announced that they are discussing supporting the nomination of either Egyptian Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Sami Anan or former Vice President General Omar Suleiman, who was also head of the Intelligence Services during the Mubarak era.

According to the Vice President of the Reform and Development Party, Rami Lakah, there are a number of respected military figures “who we may ask to stand as the party’s candidate at the presidential elections, like SCAF deputy leader General Sami Anan or former vice president General Omar Suleiman.”

Tariq El-Kholy, a member of the Reform and Development party’s political bureau, told Asharq Al-Awsat that one of the party’s choices at the forthcoming election is to “support a military candidate”, stressing that “the party wants a president who is a statesman who can immediately manage the affairs to the country in the coming period.”

Meanwhile, a senior military official in Egypt denied the reports that Tantawi will run for president, according to a report on Kol Yisrael radio on Wednesday.

The official told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that Tantawi will not run for president no matter what, and that he only wishes to restore calm in Egypt and transfer power to an elected civilian authority.

As for Suleiman, the report said, Egyptian officials told a Saudi Arabian newspaper that he plans to officially announce officially on Wednesday that he is running for president.