Omar Suleiman, Mubarak's Man, Enters Egypt Presidential Race

Former Egyptian vice president and ex-spy chief General Omar Suleiman announced on Saturday that he will run for president. The decision came as a shock to many since Suleiman announced only last Wednesday that he would sit this election out.

Suleiman is considered a central player n the former Mubarak regime, having held leadership roles over so many years. His decision to run for the presidency sparked ridicule among political activists who consider him Mubarak’s man.

Suleiman was assigned to the vice presidency during the 18-day revolution that toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. He was a vice president for less than two weeks, when Mubarak announced his resignation on Feb. 11, 2011 and Suleiman was forced to step down.

Suleiman's change of heart was a result of his supporters taking to the streets on Friday, urging him to run for presidency. In his statement, Suleiman said that he would run if he could get the 30,000 signatures needed by Saturday. The deadline for presidency registration is on Sunday. 

Suleiman is not the only candidate from the Mubarak regime. Commander Ahmed Shafik, the former Commander of the Egyptian Air Force and a former prime minister, is also running. He was assigned by Mubarak as a prime minister during the revolution under Suleiman.

But several hours after Suleiman's announcement, Shafik said he would not run and instead support Suleiman.

In the original Suleiman statement which announced that he was not running, he said: “I tried until yesterday morning to overcome the obstacles related to the current situation and the administrative, financial and organizational demands of candidacy, but I found that was beyond my capability.”

Days later he changed his tune, saying “I promise you, my brothers and sisters, to complete the goals of the revolution and provide security and stability to the Egyptian people.”

One thing that is very clear about Suleiman, is the fact that he is a military man. He is a supporter of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forced (SCAF) headed by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. Egyptian revolutionaries have been protesting against the SCAF since the ouster of Mubarak. 

Giving Suleiman’s history, it is highly unlikely that he would be an ideal civilian president who wouldn’t keep control of the government away from the military. Suleiman is only military general in long list who have been ruling Egypt since the declaration of the republic in 1953.

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Dina Sadek

Former Cairo-based freelance journalist, currently Washington D.C.-based NGO worker.

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