• mffitzgerald

    I emailed with our correspondent in Cairo, Magdi Abelhadi. Magdi said a couple of things I wanted to share:

    This is set to be the first genuine presidential election they ever had. they only tried it once under mubarak, [ed. note: in 2005, when Nour lost to Mubarak] and that carefully managed to ensure that mubarak wins.

    I can tell you that Egyptians are riveted by the campaign — something they have never seen before. They are experiencing for the first time one of the delights of democracy : the private lives of presidential candidates are subjected to scrutiny as never before. Most captivating has been the revelation that the mother of a staunchily anti-American firebrand-preacher-turned-presidnatial-candidate is/was in fact an American citizen. His histrionic denials and threats to America and the ruling military junta, alleging that it was all a conspiracy, has spawned many hilarious jokes.

    Adding to the tension and excitement, parliament — which is controlled by Islamists — is debating a bill that could ban senior figures from Mubarak regime from contesting the vote. It was hastily put together after Mubarak’s former intelligence chief — ultra conservative General Omar Soliman, entered the race. If parliament approves the legislation, the military junta may overrule it and that could significantly raise the political temperature and pave the way for a serious show down between the two forces that control Egypt today : the military junta and the Islamists.