CAIRO — Egypt's election commission released on Thursday a final list of 13 candidates eligible to run in next month's presidential elections, bringing a close to one of the most turbulent chapters of the nation's chaotic transition to civilian rule.
The list includes Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was disqualified and then reinstated over a 24-hour period this week. Also eligible to run are Mubarak's longtime foreign minister and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, and Mohammed Morsi, the candidate of the nation's most powerful political group, Muslim Brotherhood.
The generals who took power in Egypt when Mubarak stepped down 14 months ago in the face of a popular uprising have promised to hand over power to a civilian administration by July 1, ending a transition period marred by the use of deadly force by troops and police against pro-democracy protesters, a sharp rise in violent crime and a worsening economic crisis.
The elections are scheduled for May 23-24. If none of the 13 candidates wins more than 50 per cent of the vote, a runoff will be held June 16-17 between the two candidates who receive the most votes in the first round. A winner will be declared on June 21.
Moussa and Morsi are among the front-runners, along with moderate Islamist candidate Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh.
The eligible candidates were among a total of 23 hopefuls before the commission disqualified 10 of them earlier this month. The 10 included Mubarak's former spy chief Omar Suleiman, the Brotherhood's first choice candidate Khairat el-Shater and ultraconservative Islamist Hazem Abu Ismail.
The disqualification of Abu Ismail on the grounds that his late mother had dual Egyptian-American citizenship — a violation of eligibility rules — sent thousands of his supporters out on the streets to protest the commission's decision.
The election commission chairman, Farouq Sultan, told a news conference Thursday that he intended to refer to criminal investigators some of the 10 disqualified hopefuls because their applications contained material that broke the law. He did not elaborate, but it is widely suspected that the 30,000 signatures collected and submitted by some independent applicants included forged ones.
Independent candidates are obliged under the election law to collect 30,000 endorsements from Egyptians in at least 15 of Egypt's 18 provinces as part of the requirements to run.