Egypt's election body disqualified 10 candidates from the presidential poll on Saturday evening, including former Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman, the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater and Salafi Hazem Abu Ismail, an official said.
The candidates in Egypt's presidential vote have 48 hours to appeal.
According to reports in Egyptian media, Suleiman was disqualified because he lacks a few votes in his list of supporters. Al-Shater was ruled out because he has a criminal record, while Abu Ismail was disqualified because suspicions remain that his mother has American citizenship.
Earlier this week, a court in Cairo ruled that Abu Ismail would be able to run for president.
As long as the election council's decision remains unchanged, the key remaining presidential candidates will be Arab League head and Mubarak-era Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and head of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Mursi. The Muslim Brotherhood had already decided that Mursi would be a replacement for al-Shater, should the latter be disqualified from the presidential race.
The other stand-out Islamist candidate is Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh, who served in the past as one of the leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood movement, but left the movement in order to run for president independently. He was distanced from the movement as a result of a decree – later reversed – that forbade members from registering in presidential elections. However, the Muslim Brotherhood later decided to cancel the decree and nominate its own candidate.
A lawyer for Abu Ismail attacked the decision by the body overseeing the election on Saturday, saying he expected a "major crisis."
"The man heading this committee has never been independent. This elimination was dictated to him and he is working under the guidance of the military council," Nizar Ghorab told Reuters, referring to the head of Egypt's election commission. "I expect a major crisis to happen in the next few hours," he said.
On Thursday, the Egyptian parliament passed a bill that forbids any senior officials of the Mubarak regime from running for presidential candidacy. Under the new law, all those who served as prime minister, vice-president or the head of a party under Mubarak in the 10 years preceding the revolution would not be allowed to run for president in the next ten years. As such, under the bill, Suleiman, who served for a short time as Mubarak's vice- president, and Ahmed Shafiq, who served in the past as prime minister, would not be eligible to run for president. However, former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa would be eligible.
The bill has not been approved by the ruling military council, who is yet to take a position on the matter.
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