Surrounded by thousands of supporters, Omar Suleiman filed his papers at the country’s electoral commission just before a registration deadline expired.
His supporters collected more than 100,000 signatures, nearly four times the number of endorsements required for independent politicians to be able to run in the May 23-24 presidential election. The presidential vote will be the first since Mubarak’s ouster in a popular uprising 14 months ago.
As The Washington Times writes, Egyptians who spearheaded the popular uprising that ousted Mr. Mubarak a year ago expressed outrage at Gen. Suleiman’s candidacy.
The election commission later announced the list of 23 candidates who have presented their papers, but that a final one would be announced later this week after vetting.
Among the candidates there wasn’t Buthaina Kamel, the only female hopeful who revealed on Sunday that she didn’t manage to collect the required minimum of 30,000 signatures.
“I can say with certainty that the (ruling) military council pushed Omar Suleiman to run,” declared moderate Islamist candidate Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh. “I can’t imagine the Egyptian people will elect a figure from the old regime.”
“I find it incomprehensible that one of the top figures of the old regime, who should be on trial right now as a criminal, is actually considering running for president,” activist Mohammad Radwan said.
Another activist, Mohamed Fahmy, said Egyptian youth will never let Gen. Suleiman become president. “The revolution is still alive, and we will march to Tahrir Square again, if necessary,” he said.
Despite his popularity among some Egyptians who see him as a man capable of imposing stability in a deeply-fractured country, Gen Suleiman is not considered a frontrunner in the election.
Opinion polls showed that he is unlikely to win more than ten per cent of the vote when the first round is held on May 23rd.
Meanwhile, other analysts predict that his chance to win the elections could grow as the campaign progresses, particularly if he can present himself as a counterweight to the resurgent Muslim Brotherhood.
The Islamist movement announced last week Khairat al-Shater, its deputy leader and chief strategist, would contest the presidency despite having repeatedly pledged that it would not field a candidate, reports The Telegraph.
In an interview with Reuters on Sunday, the 61-year-old millionaire businessman disapproved Omar Suleiman’s decision to seek his former boss’s job. Mubarak made Suleiman vice president just before losing power.
“I consider his entry an insult to the revolution and the Egyptian people,” said Shater, who said he spent 12 years in jail during the Mubarak era. “Omar Suleiman has made a big mistake. He will only win through forgery and, if this happens, the revolution will kick off again.”
While announcing his decision to run for the elections ,Mr Suleiman said he was responding to demonstrations by supporters, many of them carrying placards reading, “Suleiman, save Egypt” and “We don’t want the Islamists.”
Unlike other figures in the Mubarak regime, Suleiman wasn’t accused of corruption, which is one of the reported reasons the military regime forced him to run.