Abouel Fotouh has strong ties with Brotherhood, says presidential hopeful Hariri

Presidential hopeful Abul Ezz al-Hariri said Saturday that he will withdraw from the presidential race if revolutionary candidates agree to nominate just one among themselves to run, to avoid splitting the vote.

Hariri excluded Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh from his list of revolutionary presidential candidates, specifying only himself, leftwing pan-Arabist Hamdeen Sabbahi, former prominent liberal judge Hesham al-Bastawisi, and leftist human rights advocate Khaled Ali.

Explaining his exclusion of Abouel Fotouh from the possible consensus candidates, Hariri said the former's allegiance is to the Brotherhood's supreme guide, not to the people, and that he has no platform of his own, but adopts that of the Brotherhood and is not against the Camp David Accords, the referendum of March 2011, and privatization.

Hariri, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party candidate, wrote on Twitter that the idea of choosing one candidate to represent the revolution is being negotiated, though no action has been taken yet.

On Thursday, the Presidential Elections Commission announced a final list of 13 candidates for next month's first post-uprising presidential poll after a tumultuous run-up that saw three leading candidates disqualified: the Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater, former spy chief Omar Suleiman who was also vice president during the Mubarak regime's last days, and popular Salafi leader Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.

According to opinion polls the front runners are now Amr Moussa, former chief of the Arab League, and Abouel Fotouh, a moderate Islamist who was expelled from the Brotherhood because he nominated himself when the movement had promised not to put forward a candidate. A co-founder of the opposition Kefaya movement, Abouel Fotouh has supported revolutionary demands during and since the revolution. His progressive Islamic views had led him into conflict with the Brotherhood's leaders before his expulsion.

Hariri also tweeted that his campaign and those of presidential hopefuls Bastawisi and Sabbahi have agreed on a single platform emphasizing the civil nature of the state and full citizenship rights regardless of religion, color or gender.

Hariri later told Al-Ahram's online portal that he suggested the idea of coming up with a consensus candidate four months ago and that several conditions were agreed upon for selecting that candidate.

These are, he said, popularity and a history of engaging with people; a consensus platform fit to save Egypt through tackling social, political and economic problems, and including an overview of the political parties' plans and maps, especially as there will be parliamentary elections this year; and the leadership qualities necessary to be president of the republic.

On Thursday, representatives from the presidential campaigns of Sabbahi, Hariri, and Bastawisi met at the headquarters of the National Association for Change to agree on a single revolutionary presidential candidate. MENA reported that representatives of Abouel Fotouh's presidential campaign also attended the meeting.

Hariri said his choice of figures such as Bastawisi and Sabbahi was due to their being part of the democratic forces that hold the civilian, not the religious, nature of Egypt as a priority.

He pointed out that these forces should not have barriers between each other and should ally due to their similarities. They should have one platform with a consensus on many issues such as the constitution, democratic principles and elections, he said.

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