- Associated Press - Sunday, February 27, 2011

CAIRO (AP) — Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Sunday he plans to run in Egypt’s presidential elections expected later this year.

Mr. Moussa, Egypt’s former foreign minister, declared his candidacy a day after a constitutional reform panel appointed by the country’s new military rulers recommended far-reaching reforms that relaxed eligibility rules governing who can run for president.

The changes, if adopted in a national referendum, would open presidential elections to more competition and impose a two-term limit on future presidents — a dramatic shift from a system that allowed ousted leader Hosni Mubarak to rule for three decades.

Mr. Moussa told reporters that the amendments were still under discussion but that any Egyptian now can run for president.


“God willing, I will be one of them,” he said.

Asked if he was going to run as an independent or join a political party, Mr. Moussa said, “This is a detail that we will deal with later.”

Mr. Moussa enjoys wide popularity in Egypt, largely because of his scathing criticism of Israel, a country seen by most Egyptians as an enemy despite the 1979 peace treaty between the two neighbors.

During the 18-day pro-democracy uprising that forced Mr. Mubarak to step down as president on Feb. 11, Mr. Moussa visited Cairo’s central Tahrir Square, the epicenter of protests. His visit was widely seen as a test of his popularity.

His convoy was greeted with chants of “We want you as president! We want you as president!”

Before becoming the Arab League’s secretary general in 2001, Mr. Moussa served as Egypt’s foreign minister for 10 years.