Omar Suleiman
Omar Suleiman Reuters

Egypt’s election commission officially rejected the appeals of three main contenders for the presidency on Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

The disqualification of the three diminishes the chances that an Islamist candidate will win the presidency, noted the report, but there are worries over the fallout from the decision, particularly from the supporters of one of the barred candidates, ultraconservative Islamist Hazem Abu Ismail.

Around 2,000 Abu Ismail supporters camped outside the commission’s headquarters since the previous day, demanding he be allowed to run. When the rejection was announced Tuesday evening, some of them threw stones at security and briefly scuffled with military police, AP reported.

In addition to Abu Ismail, the commission’s decision also removes former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and Muslim Brotherhood chief strategist Khairat el-Shater. The panel had announced their disqualification along with ten other candidates over the weekend. They each appealed the decision on Monday.

Suleiman was disqualified because he fell short of the required number of public endorsements, while el-Shater was disqualified on the basis of a law stating candidates can only run for office six years after being pardoned or freed. He was released from prison in March of last year.

Abu Ismail was disqualified because his mother held American citizenship briefly before her death in 2010. According to a new law passed after the uprising which toppled former Preisdent Hosni Mubarak last year, candidates cannot qualify if their spouses or parents hold a foreign nationality.

AP noted that with the three out, the top contenders in the race are seen to be former foreign minister Amr Moussa, moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh and the Brotherhood’s backup candidate, Mohammed Morsi. Voting begins May 23-24.

On Sunday, Suleiman warned against a win in the presidential race by the extreme Muslim Brotherhood.

Suleiman, who was appointed by Mubarak as vice president in the dying days of his administration, expressed his fear that if the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate wins the election, the movement will force Israel into a war with Egypt by letting terrorists run loose in the Sinai Peninsula.

In an interview with an Egyptian newspaper Suleiman said, “I fear that incorrect judgments will push us into confrontations with Israel. The Sinai may become an area from which rockets are fired into Israel and the parties may be drawn into war.”