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10 Egyptian presidential candidates disqualified

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, For CNN
April 16, 2012 -- Updated 1015 GMT (1815 HKT)
Khairat el-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, is awaiting a court decision regarding his eligibility.
Khairat el-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, is awaiting a court decision regarding his eligibility.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat el-Shater is among the disqualified
  • Former Vice President Omar Suleiman also is disqualified
  • Hazem Abu Ismael, the ultra-conservative Islamist, is off the ballot, too
  • Reasons vary for their disqualifications, election committee head says

Cairo (CNN) -- Ten of the 23 nominees running for president in Egypt -- including Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat el-Shater and former Vice President Omar Suleiman -- have been disqualified and cannot run for the nation's top job, the head of Egypt's executive election committee said Saturday.

The disqualifications are due to "legal irregularities," and the 10 candidates have 48 hours to appeal to the committee, which in turn will respond in 24 hours, Hatem Bagato said.

"Omar Suleiman was banned because he did not collect the 30,000 endorsements from 15 different directorates in Egypt but obtained them from several cities only, which is not legal," Bagato explained.

Bagato added that both el-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood's No. 1 choice, and Ayman Nour, the head of the Al Ghad party, were disqualified for issues surrounding their unresolved pardons for time in prison.

Alaa Ayad, a campaign spokesman for el-Shater, called the disqualification a "political decision" and said the party's lawyer will appeal it.

"This decision may cause tension on the streets," Ayad said.

Egyptian candidates barred from election
Muslim Brotherhood protests candidate

El-Shater is a multimillionaire businessman who spent 12 years behind bars under Mubarak's rule. He is awaiting a court decision regarding his eligibility to run after a pardon granted by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces was challenged in court.

Hazem Abu Ismael, the ultra-conservative Islamist, was banned due to information that his mother holds an American passport, which is against the rules of candidacy, Bagato said.

A representative for Ismael issued a similar warning as Ayad, saying the candidate's "followers are angry and will take to the streets until he is allowed to run."

"We are convinced that Abu Ismael is targeted and that there are external and internal conspiracies against him," lawyer Nizar Ghorab said.

The other disqualified candidates include Mamdouh Outb, Ashraf Barouma, Hossam Khairat, Ibrahim Ghareeb, Ahmed Awad and Mortada Mansour, Bagato told CNN.

Next month's vote will be the nation's first presidential election since President Hosni Mubarak's ouster in February 2011. The historic vote on May 23-24 comes amid rising political tensions as officials work to craft the nation's new constitution and Egyptians await the verdict in Mubarak's murder trial, which is scheduled for June 2.

Suleiman, who also served as spy chief in the Mubarak regime, announced this month that he would enter the race after initially saying he would not seek the presidency. The announcement sparked controversy and prompted the Muslim Brotherhood to call for a "million-man" protest in Tahrir Square against the nomination of former members of Mubarak's regime. On Thursday, the Egyptian Parliament unanimously passed a bill that aims to ban such politicians from running for president for 10 years.

Earlier this week, el-Shater himself lashed out at Suleiman's eleventh-hour entry into the race.

"We are not against the concept of anyone running as long as he has the right legal status, but it's unacceptable to have one of the symbols of Mubarak's regime run for president," el-Shater said. "The majority of Egyptians will not accept him. His candidacy is an insult to the revolution."

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