Egypt Independent

Experts label Awa as Brotherhood’s secret presidential nominee

Experts in Islamist movements have said they believe Islamic thinker Mohamed Selim al-Awa, an Egypt presidential hopeful, is the undeclared nominee for the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest Islamist group.

The Brotherhood had declared it will not name a candidate for the country's presidential race expected by the end of 2011.

The experts interviewed by Al-Masry Al-Youm voiced doubts about Awa's denial of the suggestion. They mentioned his strong links to the Brotherhood and state agencies, and pointed to the group's decision to abstain from punishing its younger members who supported his campaign.

“There is a high possibility that Awa is the Brotherhood's secret nominee, and he may even be backed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)," said Ammar Ali Hassan, an expert on Islamist groups.

"Awa has never been known to have any political aspirations and never joined any political groups, being content with his role as an Islamic thinker and judicial expert."

Hassan believes that Awa is not campaigning on his own and is coordinating with certain forces.

Awa ranked second in a Facebook poll on presidency candidates made by the ruling military council on its Facebook page, that was only two days after he had declared he would run for president.

"Those forces are either the Brotherhood or the SCAF, and maybe both," Hassan said.

According to Hassan, Awa played a key role in the 2005 political deal struck between the Muslim Brotherhood and the regime of toppled president Hosni Mubarak, by which the group obtained 88 parliament seats in return for bowing out of the presidential race the same year.

Amr Hashem Rabea, an expert at al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said the Brotherhood does not have an official nominee.

Rabea believes that once elections kick off, the group will back the candidate whose platform most conforms to theirs. Awa is the most potential runner to win their support, especially since the group broke up with its dissident member, Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, another presidential hopeful, who violated its declared decision not to field a presidential candidate.

Hossam Tammam, a researcher in Islamist movements, said that the group’s interests lie in the election of a weak president whose power would be overshadowed by that of the parliamentary majority it expects to secure in September.

Translated from the Arabic Edition