The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s dominant power in parliament, nominated a presidential candidate to run in the May election, a move that may increase tensions between the once-banned group and the country’s ruling generals.
The Brotherhood will put forward Khairat el-Shater, a senior official within the Islamist movement, Mahmoud Hussein, the group’s secretary-general, said at a press conference yesterday in Cairo. The government hasn’t met the needs of the people and there is a “threat to the revolution,” he said. The group’s Freedom and Justice Party holds 47 percent of the seats in parliament’s lower house.
The Brotherhood earlier said it wasn’t planning to run a candidate in the May presidential elections. The group has clashed in recent weeks with the military rulers who took over after former President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. It has criticized the generals for rejecting its calls to fire the current Cabinet on grounds that they had failed to address the country’s growing economic difficulties.
El-Shater served as a top official in the Brotherhood’s Guidance Council, its main decision-making body. He has been imprisoned several times, meaning that he would have to be pardoned by Egypt’s military ruler, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, in order to run for the presidency.
El-Shater’s running in the May election would “likely be something done in coordination with SCAF,” Hani Sabra, Middle East analyst with the Eurasia Group, a consultancy, said in a telephone interview, referring to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.
Hussein said that the Brotherhood’s decision to field a candidate came after rumors that several former members of Mubarak’s regime were considering running for office, which further boosted concerns that the country’s push for democracy was under threat.