The country’s revolution brought new faces, including Khairat Shater, onetime political prisoner now running as a candidate for the Muslim Brotherhood. But the revolt failed to sweep away prominent, if shadowy, challengers from the past, most notably Omar Suleiman, the former leader’s spymaster and confidant.
The presidential race lays bare today’s volatile Egypt: a battleground between ascending Islamists and the remnants of a regime seeking to conjure a sense of stability in a land troubled by crime and economic turmoil. The contest between the two forces sharpened after the revolution’s young activists failed to inspire Egyptians with a political alternative.
“If we have three members of Mubarak’s regime running for office after the revolution, then it is obvious the revolution remains unfinished,” said Bashir Abdel Fattah, editor of Democracy magazine. He added that the race reflected Egypt’s “uncertain and inexperienced political climate.”
The grass-roots reach of the Muslim Brotherhood, which controls nearly 50% of parliament, makes Shater, a multimillionaire, a strong contender in next month’s election. Another popular Islamist is Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a moderate who was expelled from the Brotherhood when he chose to run as an independent.
Suleiman’s appearance has revived memories of last year when, as Mubarak’s vice president, he stepped on the wrong side of history and disappeared after failing to buttress the regime against the popular revolt. His candidacy is not expected to significantly recast the dynamics of the race. but it may skim support from two other Mubarak-era officials: former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, who is leading in the polls, and former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik.