Former Egyptian prime minister disqualified from presidential run
CAIRO -- Egypt's former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik became the latest presidential hopeful to be disqualified by the Supreme Electoral Committee under a new law barring top officials in Hosni Mubarak's toppled regime from running for office, the state news agency MENA reported Tuesday.
The committee's decision followed the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces' approval earlier in the day of amendments to the election law. The amendments, which were passed by the Islamic-led parliament, include barring from politics anyone who served in the last 10 years as a minister, vice president or top official in the dissolved ruling National Democratic Party.
The ruling marked another turning point in Egypt's political drama ahead of the May 23-24 election. Shafik's exclusion paves the way for former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa to become the strongest secular candidate against Islamist contenders Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood and Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, a progressive.
Shafik became the fourth top candidate to be disqualified by the election commission, after the barring of Khairat Shater, the Brotherhood's first choice; former spy chief and Vice President Omar Suleiman; and ultraconservative Salafi lawyer and preacher Hazem Salah abu Ismail.
A former colonel in the Egyptian air force, Shafik served as minister of civil aviation from 2002 until he was appointed as prime minister by Mubarak on Jan. 29, 2011, in what proved to be a failed attempt to appease millions of Egyptians demanding the ouster of the former president's regime.
Pressured by revolutionary forces, who described Shafik as a "top remnant" of Mubarak's era, the ruling military council sacked Shafik on March 3 of the same year.
Parliament Speaker Saad Katatni interrupted Tuesday's late session to announce Shafik's disqualification, as the news was met by strong applause and cheering among members of parliament.
-- Amro Hassan
Photo: Axed presidential hopeful Ahmed Shafik. Credit: Amr Nabil / Associated Press