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Egypt approves law on presidential candidate ban

Egypt's ruling army on Tuesday approved a law drafted by the Egyptian Parliament [official website] which bans certain candidates from the upcoming presidential elections [IFES election guide]. The law was passed early in April [JURIST report] and prevents anyone who held a rank of party leader or higher during the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] from running for president for 10 years. However, it was unclear if the law was passed in time to block the candidacy of Ahmed Shafiq [Reuters report] who very briefly served as Mubarak's prime minister and for a short period following his rule. The law has drawn criticism from protesters and supporters of disqualified Islamic candidates and adds uncertainty to Egypt's democratic elections. If Shafiq is disqualified, the remaining top candidates in Egypt's race for president would be Mubarak's former prime minister Amr Mussa and Mohammed Mursi from the Muslim Brotherhood [party website]. The voting begins at the end of May with the expected transition of power from the current military generals to the democratically elected president to occur July 1. The final list of election candidates is supposed to be announced Thursday, and, after that announcement, the eligibility of candidates cannot be challenged according to the government's interim constitution.

A few days ago, the Egyptian Constitutional Court [official website, Arabic] announced [JURIST report] that it cannot rule on the constitutionality of the law until after it has taken effect. Egypt has been in the process of restructuring its government since protests led to the resignation of Mubarak [JURIST report] last year. Earlier this month, an Egyptian court ordered the suspension of a constitutional panel [JURIST report], which consisted of about 100 people, charged with writing the country's new constitution because Egyptian lawyers alleged its members were not chosen constitutionally. Egypt is also in the process of trying Mubarak for assisting in the killing of protestors last year. His trial ended in February, and a judge has set the verdict date [JURIST reports] for June 2.

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