- Life Style
Today’s papers are still taken by the presidential elections mayhem, focusing on the excluded candidates’ quest to re-enter the race.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s mouthpiece, Freedom and Justice, defiantly runs a home page of only headlines: “With the law: [Khairat al-] Shater is right. [Omar] Suleiman is wrong.”
The Presidential Elections Commission excluded on Saturday two main front-runners in the elections race: Shater, a Brotherhood leader, and Suleiman, ex-spy chief and vice president under toppled Hosni Mubarak. The two contestants are old-time rivals whose rift goes back to the Mubarak anti-Islamist security era, when most crucial Brotherhood leaders — Shater included — were sent to jail.
“Khairat is the victim of the army and Suleiman,” reads another headline. Inside the paper, a staunch anti-Suleiman editorial campaign floods its pages. In one of the stories, it is reported that there is evidence of Suleiman being supported by the Gulf, citing the incident of a pouch full of T-shirts supporting the former vice president coming from Saudi Arabia and being stopped by the airport’s customs authority. “This means that the Egyptian revolution is being stolen with Gulf money that is standing stiff against the continuation of the revolution’s goals in Egypt,” Freedom and Justice says. The strong anti-Gulf discourse adds to the more usual anti-military discourse that the Brotherhood has been engaging with recently in what marks the deepest rift between the Islamist elites and the generals since the 25 January revolution.
In a one-page spread, Freedom and Justice indulges in what it calls “Mubarak II’s plan to topple the revolution. Freedom and Justice reveals the details of Suleiman’s coup.” The not-so-revelatory feature explains how Suleiman’s constituency is based on reproducing the Mubarak legacy: diffusing a Brotherhood phobia, a divide and rule strategy among revolutionaries and a false sense of stability that only Suleiman can guarantee. The story goes on to explain that besides these different tactics, Suleiman may resort to using the military council to topple the emerging Brotherhood altogether, not outruling the possibility of a military coup. Accompanying the feature is a rather clumsy artwork: a Photoshopped image of Suleiman, half of whose face and body is that of a faceless middle-age warrior.
Although his words are not as framed in a headline as in the privately owned Al-Dostour, Freedom and Justice reports about Shater’s comments following his initial exclusion. “We will go to all places and squares to stop the mafia of the old regime remnants,” the paper says. Al-Dostour, however, insinuates the possibility of violence. “We won’t give up even if we have to dispense thousands of martyrs,” says Shater, and frames Al-Dostour in a front-page headline.
Further on the issue of candidates, the partisan Al-Wafd daily hinted at what might be a continuing crisis, as the Presidential Elections Commission secretary general Hatem Bagato said the initial exclusion of 10 candidates is not final and that investigations on the remaining 13 are still ongoing. The story also reveals that the commission had reservations about the funding sources of Salafi lawyer and prominent candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. Ismail was among the 10 excluded candidates. His saga has been to disprove that his mother acquired American citizenship before she died, which disqualifies him from the race. As per Al-Wafd’s story, the funding issue only makes matters worse for him.
The privately owned Al-Shorouk pitches an interesting angle on the issue of presidential candidates’ exclusions. In a story in which it explores where Islamists’ votes would go if Ismail and Shater are definitely are out of the race, Al-Shorouk writes that voters will now either go to Mohamed Morsy, the head of the Freedom and Justice Party who has been on standby if Shater is rejected, and Abdel Moneim Abouel Fottouh, a former Brotherhood member who has a level of popularity among the revolutionaries. Sources within the Muslim Brotherhood tell Al-Shorouk that the group is studying the possibility of pulling Morsy out, especially if his chances are meager compared to the more popular Abouel Fotouh. Meanwhile, these sources say that in case Morsy runs and wins, Shater would be his vice. Sources within the more radical Nour Party also tell Al-Shorouk that there is a direction within the party to endorse Abouel Fotouh if both Ismail and Shater are out of the race. These sources also say that there has been previously a proposition to the Freedom and Justice Party to endorse Abouel Fotouh; however, the Brotherhood insisted that its position is set on not supporting one of their defectors.
Today’s papers also lead with Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi’s meeting with political parties’ heads yesterday, the highlight of which is the former’s insistence that a constitution is completed before the presidential elections are concluded.
This proposition could be problematic because it could insinuate a potential delay in the presidential elections and hence the ruling military institution’s handover to a civilian authority. Moreover, this proposition indicates the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces’ intention to oversee the constitution-writing process, which revolutionary forces take issue with.
However, the state-run Al-Ahram soothes this worry with a headline that reads, “Tantawi confirms power handover to a civilian authority.” But further in the story, it is reported that Tantawi will call for a meeting of all MPs of the bicameral Parliament to decide on new procedures for the selection of Constituent Assembly members.
The work of the current assembly, which has a majority Islamist representation, has come to a halt after a court ruling suspended its formation.
Al-Shorouk adds to the coverage of the meeting by quoting the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsy as saying that the new assembly will be more representative, in an indication of a less confrontational attitude from the country’s leading Islamist force, an attitude not equally reflected on the issue of the presidential elections.
In his editorial in Al-Shorouk, columnist and political commentator Abdallah al-Seinawy hails the current political landscape and the mounting rift between the generals and the Brotherhood as a chance for the latter to revisit its position. According to him, this is a time when the Brotherhood can see that aiming for a monopoly over the state institutions and the constitution-writing process is problematic and hence an accord with other political parties is due. Moreover, Seinawy adds that the Brotherhood is now resorting back to the street and using the more revolutionary discourse of early last year in an indication that the legitimacy of the revolution supersedes that of Parliament, where the group holds a majority of seats.
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run
Rose al-Youssef:Daily state-run
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned
Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party
Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party
Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party