Egypt's election organizers reinstated the presidential candidacy of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik on Wednesday, a day after excluding him from the race under a law banning top officials of deposed President Hosni Mubarak.
The state-run Middle East News Agency said the presidential electoral committee had accepted an appeal from Shafik challenging the panel's decision Tuesday that he was ineligible to run for the presidency in elections that begin next month.
"The decision to accept my client's appeal proves that the electoral committee functions as an independent body according to the rule of law," Shafik's lawyer, Shawqi Sayyid, was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera, the satellite TV network.
Shafik was the last prime minister under Mubarak, who was overthrown Feb. 11, 2011, by a dramatic pro-democracy movement inspired by the "Arab Spring."
Egypt's military council had approved a law barring those who served as president, vice president or prime minister in the last decade of Mubarak's 30-year autocratic rule.
The electoral committee also sent the new law to the Supreme Constitutional Court to decide its legitimacy.
In another move ahead of the presidential election, fundamentalist Islamic clerics from the ultraconservative Salafis and new Islamist parties endorsed Mohamed Morsi to run as the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, officials announced at a news conference in Cairo. Morsi is expected to compete for votes with the more progressive Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, posing the likelihood of a split of the pro-Islamist vote.
That could boost the prospects of secular candidates such as Shafik and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa.
-- Carol J. Williams in Los Angeles
Photo: Newly reinstated Egyptian presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafik speaks with reporters before presenting his candidacy papers at the presidential elections committee headquarters in Cairo on April 5. Credit: Khaled Elfiqi / European Pressphoto Agency