Despite earlier statements to the contrary, sources from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood (MB) claim that the group might be fielding a candidate in the upcoming presidential elections especially since one of its most senior members is about to be acquitted of charges leveled against him by the former regime.
The Muslim Brotherhood is taking the necessary steps to drop the charges leveled against the group’s Deputy Chairman, Khairat al-Shater, which would make him an eligible presidential candidate, said MB lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maksoud.
“We are going ahead with the procedures anyway and regardless of whether Shater runs or not,” he told Al Arabiya.
Abdel Maksoud said that even though the MB had earlier announced that it was not fielding a candidate in the presidential elections, it could change its mind if it felt it was in Egypt’s best interest.
“The mystery enveloping the political scene at the moment might make the MB see it fit to choose one of its members to run, as long as he can get the required 30,000 signatures in accordance with the elections law.”
According to a MB source who spoke on the condition of anonymity the Muslim Brotherhood has not found a candidate from outside that it can support and several of the ones it deemed suitable did not want to run which is why it may consider choosing one of its members.
“The MB sees that the first president in post-revolution Egypt has to have very special qualities that enable him to deal with such a critical phase in the country’s history,” he told Al Arabiya.
According to the source, the MB’s Consultative Council made the decision not to field a candidate and can take this decision back.
“Whether or not it will change its decision will be determined in the council’s coming meeting on Friday.”
The source’s statements coincided with hints made by the MB Secretary General Mahmoud Hussein who gave the impression that the group is being pressured to change its mind.
“There are several parties trying to make the MB field a candidate in the presidential elections,” Hussein said in a conference organized by MB students at al-Azhar University.
Hussein added that the MB made several suggestions about candidates it can support yet the suggested candidates themselves did not want to run.
“Maybe they were worried because of the challenges they will face in this transitional stage or maybe they were pressured not to run.”
Hussein argued that there is a conspiracy against Islamists and against Egypt as it tries to gain its political independence.
“Many do not want Egypt to acquire its right of self-rule and want it to stay subordinate to one external power or another. The fabricated crises we keep facing are just an attempt to force the MB and the entire country to accept the status quo or risk having more instability.”
According to Rafik Habib, vice chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party, the MB’s political wing, no decision about the group fielding a candidate has been made yet.
“Discussions are ongoing about whether the group and the party will choose a candidate, but so far nothing is certain,” he told Al Arabiya.
Habib attributed the delay in announcing the name of the candidate the group would support or field to the complicated situation in the Egyptian political scene.
“Circumstances keep changing and decisions had been made then postponed several times before.”
However, analysts see recent statements by senior MB figures about the possibility of the group changing its mind as a sign of an imminent decision that takes the first back in Friday’s meeting.
Political sources have also linked between these statements and reports that 13 members of the MB’s Consultative Assembly submitted a request demanding that Shater runs for president after the charges against him are dropped.