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Islamist eyes outright win in Egypt presidency vote

By Yasmine Saleh and Dina Zayed

CAIRO (Reuters) – A leading Islamist candidate said on Tuesday he was

confident he would win enough votes in Egypt’s first real presidential election to seal victory in the first round, and said

anybody associated with Hosni Mubarak was unfit to lead.

Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Abol 

Fotouh speaks during an interview with Reuters in Cairo April 24, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

In an interview with Reuters, Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh said he expected to win a

majority of votes among members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from which he was expelled over his decision to

seek the presidency. The group is fielding its own candidate for the historic vote.

“We are working and organising on

the basis that we will win from the first round and not in the run-off,” the 60-year old said, speaking at his suburban Cairo

villa. “As elections approach, our chances of winning are increasing.”

Described as a moderate reformer during his

years in the Brotherhood, Abol Fotouh has emerged as a front-runner in the May 23-24 vote, finding support among both

liberals and Islamists and presenting himself as a consensus choice. However, his critics say he presents an unclear

ideological vision as he seeks to be all things to all people.

Egypt’s first presidential election since Mubarak’s

overthrow in February 2011 is widely expected to go to a run-off between the top two candidates in June.

Slamming one

of his main rivals, Amr Moussa – a former Arab League chief who served as Mubarak’s foreign minister – Abol Fotouh said the

Egyptian people would not vote for the same system they toppled.

“I hope that no member of the old regime is elected

because we are in a new republic, we have new criteria to manage the state and those who were raised in the arms of the

former regime and brought up with its thinking are unfit,” he said.

Egypt’s ruling military has approved a law that

bans top Mubarak-era officials from running for the presidency, which would exclude his last prime minister and potentially

allow Moussa to pick up more votes.

“Let us be logical, all those who participated with the old regime, helped it, or

kept in silence over the crimes the regime committed against Egypt belong to the former regime,” he said, referring to


Moussa’s transfer to the Arab League in 2001 was widely seen as a bid by Mubarak to push him out of

government because of his growing domestic popularity. He has been away from government for Mubarak’s last decade in



Abol Fotouh still commands broad respect in the Muslim Brotherhood, a group he

helped lead for decades. The group had initially decided against contesting the presidency and expelled Abol Fotouh for

defying its wishes. But it then changed course, deciding to enter the race in March.

The Brotherhood’s first choice

was disqualified last week and the group is now banking on its reserve candidate, 59-year old Mohamed Mursi. But the

soft-spoken Mursi is widely seen as a less charismatic figure than Abol Fotouh.

“God willing, we will take most of the

Brotherhood’s votes,” Abol Fotouh said, smiling. “I am against the hegemony of one party in all institutions of power, even

if it is by democratic means.” The Brotherhood holds close to half the seats in parliament.

Abol Fotouh said he was an

independent candidate who could deliver reform to meet the expectations of activists from Tahrir Square.

But, offering

the type of broad self-description that incensed his critics, he also called himself “the candidate who represents all

political currents in Egypt – whether Islamists, liberals or leftists and who enjoys a unanimous approval from those


One area of debate has been his vision for the economy, since his advisory board includes at least one

Marxist as well as liberals. But he sees no contradiction.

“The world is now heading towards a compromise between the

old system of capitalism and the old system of socialism,” he said. “And this is what represents the foundation of Egyptian

thought that is based on Islamic civilization.”

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Islamist eyes outright win in Egypt presidency vote

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