Egypt Independent

Sunday’s papers: Speculation as presidential candidacy applications open

State-run daily Al-Ahram leads with the headline, “158 requests on the first day of applications for presidential candidacy,” as do the rest of Egypt’s newspapers on Sunday.

“On the first day of presidential candidacy applications, no candidate officially applied for candidacy documents; however, 158 folders containing candidacy conditions were requested,” Al-Ahram explains.

Most of the 158 who approached the headquarters of the Presidential Elections Commission Saturday complained about its decision to ban election campaigning until 30 April, Farouk Sultan, head of the commission, said in a press conference yesterday, according to Al-Ahram.

Sadat-era minister and head of the military’s Advisory Council Mansour Hassan’s announcement of his intention run for president last week stirred media speculation that the Muslim Brotherhood would support him, especially after party paper Al-Wafd announced its endorsement of Hassan despite earlier endorsing Amr Moussa. 

Sunday’s headlines on Hassan tell contrasting stories still. Al-Ahram reports that Hassan confirmed that the Wafd Party has not backtracked on its support for him, denying recent news about their withdrawal in the face of strong rejection from their younger members. However, privately owned Youm7 says that Wafd President Al-Sayed al-Badawy decided to contain the young members’ anger by inviting five of them to the next meeting of the party’s higher committee, in which they will decide finally on the candidate that the party will support in the presidential elections, which are slated for 23 and 24 May.

Youm7 adds that according to sources from the Wafd’s parliamentary bloc, the party’s members are divided into three groups supporting three different candidates, namely Hassan, Moussa and Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh.

As for rumors about the Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party supporting Hassan, Freedom and Justice daily reports that Hassan denied securing the Brotherhood’s endorsement.

“I hope they support me, and it would make me happy if it happened in the future, but so far there hasn’t been any direct contact between us … and what is being said about Khairat al-Shater as my vice president is untrue,” Hassan reportedly said in a phone call to a TV program Saturday night.

In contrast, privately owned Al-Shorouk runs a front-page headline saying, “Mansour Hassan considers withdrawing from presidential race.” The story quotes anonymous sources saying his hesitation is because he’d been getting the general impression that he wouldn’t succeed.

Despite recent speculations about the Brotherhood’s candidate of choice, Al-Shorouk quotes a source in the Islamist group as saying it hasn’t settled on one yet and is leaning toward not supporting a specific nominee to avoid angering its members. The source says this idea emerged after a poll of Brotherhood members and supporters revealed the sympathy of many for Abouel Fotouh, the former member of whom Brotherhood leaders feel they might have been hasty in expelling after he announced last year his intention to run for president.

Al-Shorouk also reports that the Coptic Orthodox Church is inclined towards advocating for Abouel Fotouh in the elections following a closed meeting of 22 bishops, of whom 12 supported Abouel Fotouh, while the rest preferred Moussa.

Egypt’s Sufi groups are fielding three presidential candidates from their ranks, reports Youm7.

Despite recent media reports about the candidacy of former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, both Al-Shorouk and Al-Ahram deny this.

“The idea hasn’t crossed his mind in the first place, and he doesn’t want to drag himself into this issue,” said a source apparently close to the Mubarak-era vice president.

State-run Al-Gomhurriya reports that a group supporting Suleiman’s candidacy has said it will appeal the decision of the Presidential Elections Commission after a number of notary offices refused to accept members’ endorsements of Suleiman because the members did not have Suleiman’s ID details, which the commission stipulates is necessary to register endorsement of a candidate.

Regarding the constituent assembly, Freedom and Justice says that the legislative councils received 297 proposals on the structure of the assembly in addition to the 57 from MPs. The party paper added that 90 percent of the 353 proposals suggest that the constituent assembly members should be elected from both inside and outside Parliament.

Egypt’s papers:

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

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

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