Former Mubarak intelligence chief to stand in Egyptian presidential race

The Guardian reports: Egypt’s presidential race was thrown into further turmoil when a former ally of Hosni Mubarak announced that he had decided to run, and supporters of another candidate flooded Tahrir Square protesting that he was being pushed out by allegations his mother was a US citizen. Omar Suleiman, who was the ex-president’s intelligence chief, has inside influence that will make him a likely frontrunner in the elections, to be held on 23 and 24 May. His main opponent is likely to be Khairat el-Shater, candidate of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

Suleiman, a former general who appeared on television in February 2011 to announce that Mubarak would step down, said earlier this week that he had decided not to run. But he issued the statement on Friday on the state-run Mena news agency saying he had changed his mind after hundreds of supporters held a rally urging his candidacy.

“I can only meet the call and run in the presidential race,” he said. He had previously blamed organisational and financial constraints for not standing.

Suleiman must get 30,000 supporters to sign a petition before he can officially submit his application to stand in order to meet the official filing deadline on Sunday. Meanwhile thousands of supporters of another candidate, Hazem Abu Ismail, took over Tahrir Square on Friday to protest against what they said was a conspiracy brewing against their presidential candidate, regarding the supposed US citizenship of his late mother.

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