Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood announced on Saturday that it has chosen Khairat al-Shater as its presidential candidate for the upcoming elections set to take place between May 23-24.
The decision is a dramatic change that contradicts the Brotherhood's stance in the wake of the revolution in Egypt, when they declared that they would not present any candidate for presidency. Al-Shater announced as early as last week that he had no intention of serving as candidate.
Shater, who serves as deputy to Brotherhood leader Muhammad Badia, is known as an expert on societal issues and economics, and previously served as the organization’s “treasury minister” prior to the revolution. According to estimations, during Hosni Mubarak’s rule, al-Shater was worth approximately 250 million Egyptian pounds ($44 million).
The Brotherhood said it changed tack after reviewing other candidates in the race and after parliament, where its Freedom and Justice Party controls the biggest bloc, was unable to meet "the demands of the revolution", a reference to its mounting criticism of the ruling army's handling of the transition.
Given the Brotherhood's strong showing in the parliamentary election and its broad grass-roots network, the group's backing for a candidate could prove a decisive factor. However, analysts say name recognition may also play a role in the race that could help others such as former Arab League chief Amr Moussa.
Analysts said the move suggested the Brotherhood, on the brink of power for the first time in its 84-year history, was worried it could have that power snatched away after decades of repression at the hands Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted last year.
"We have witnessed obstacles standing in the way of parliament to take decisions to achieve the demands of the revolution," said Mohamed Morsy, head of the Freedom and Justice Party.
"We have therefore chosen the path of the presidency not because we are greedy for power but because we have a majority in parliament which is unable to fulfil its duties in parliament," he said announcing the decision to back Shater.
The move will worry liberals and others who fret about the rising influence of Islamists after they swept parliament and now dominate an assembly writing the new constitution.
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