Egyptian presidential candidate carries banner of the old order and gets Israeli support

The New York Times reports: Former President Hosni Mubarak’s intelligence chief and vice president filed papers in Egypt on Sunday declaring himself a presidential candidate. His entry gives Egyptians a chance to cast a vote against the revolution and for the old order.

The former vice president, Omar Suleiman, has been considered a potential candidate for months, and his formal entry is unlikely to shake up the race. In a recent poll taken by Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, a state-financed research institution, about 9 percent of voters volunteered that Mr. Suleiman was the candidate they would choose, putting him in fourth place. The poll was completed before the popular Muslim Brotherhood nominated its own candidate, Khairat el-Shater.

Mr. Suleiman, a retired general, could become a magnet for the support of Egyptians most unhappy with the revolt that ousted Mr. Mubarak. Although the uprising produced Egypt’s first free and fair parliamentary elections, it has also led to more than a year of continued street protests, soaring crime rates, an economy on the brink of collapse and an increase in the power of both moderate and conservative Islamists.

Although almost no one is calling for Mr. Mubarak’s release from confinement or for a restoration of his government, many long for order. And a few still whisper that it takes a strong hand to control a country like Egypt, with its high rates of poverty and illiteracy.

Mr. Suleiman’s closeness to Mr. Mubarak is hard to overstate, and he was often talked about, along with the former president’s son Gamal, as a potential successor. For decades, Mr. Suleiman was Mr. Mubarak’s closest adviser, often trusted with the most delicate matters, like Egypt’s talks with Israel and the Palestinians.

As chief of intelligence, Mr. Suleiman knew all the secrets of the old government, its friends and its enemies. American officials have said that on matters of foreign policy, talking to Mr. Suleiman was as good as talking to Mr. Mubarak himself, and State Department cables released by the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks show that Mr. Suleiman collaborated with the United States in the interrogation of people suspected of being terrorists. Torture was routine under the Mubarak government’s security services.

The Jerusalem Post reports: Labor MK and former defense minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Monday that Egyptian presidential candidate Omar Suleiman would be “good for Israel.”

Ben-Eliezer, who held close personal ties to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, told Israel Radio that Suleiman is a patriot, “he loves Egypt.” The former Egyptian intelligence chief, Ben-Eliezer added, views relations with Israel as a cornerstone of strategic importance for Egypt.

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