Poll: Former Arab League Chief Moussa Leads in Egyptian Presidential Race

With Egypt's presidential elections only a month and a half away, Amr Moussa leads in the polls with 30% support.

Former Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa is still considered the leading candidate to become Egypt's next president, according to a poll conducted by the Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, which was published on Tuesday.

According to the poll, which was conducted between March 31 and April 3 among 1,200 Egyptians, Moussa, who also served in the past as Egypt's foreign minister, would win 30.7 percent of the vote.  

Arab League Amr Moussa - Reuters - March 20, 2011

Following at a close second, however, was the ultra-conservative Salafist candidate Sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, with 28.8% support. However, since the poll was conducted, it was made public that Abu Ismail's mother holds American citizenship, a fact which is likely to disqualify his candidacy.

In the event that Abu Ismail is disqualified, 32% of his supporters said they would shift their support to the more moderate IslamistDr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, while 29.9% would support Moussa and 23.3% would vote for other candidates.

Aboul Fotouh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood who quit the movement to run independently, came in third place with 8.5%.

Former Mubarak-era intelligence chief Omar Suleimancame in fourth with 8.2%. However, the poll was conducted before Suleiman formally announced his candidacy last Friday.

On Monday, Suleiman alleged that Islamist elements had threatened to assassinate him after his announcement.

Surprisingly, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Khairat El-Shaterreceived a mere 1.7% of the vote.

In his first interview since announcing his candidacy, El-Shater said on Monday that "Egypt is not Iran. I am not operating under orders from the [spiritual leader]. If I'm elected president, the Brotherhood's spiritual guide will have nothing to do with my decisions. I will operate according to the constitution."

He criticized Suleiman's candidacy as "an insult to the revolution," adding that "the people will have no choice but to return to the streets if they feel the revolution is in danger."  

Ahmed Shafik, who briefly served as Egypt's prime minister from January to March 2011, received 7.5% support, followed closely by the leftist candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, with 3.9% and Islamist lawyer Salim Al-Awa with 3.2%.

The deadline for Egyptians to submit their candidacy for the race passed on Sunday. The field of candidates is expected to consist of 23 contenders, including one Christian. The official list will be published late next week, after all of the requests are considered.

The elections are scheduled to take place on May 23 and 24, with the newly elected president taking office in early July.

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