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February 15, 2012

Egypt's next president

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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On March 10th the registration to run for Egypt's top political office takes place. In my opinion there is a short list of three candidates for the position, one of which will most likely win. The list includes only those who have the financial backing (estimated to be at least $30 million i.e. $1 per voter) to mount an effective campaign.

In the case of the lack of financial backing, the candidate must have a massive army of committed volunteers. But out of my short list of candidates, the one who will most likely win is the one who will get the support of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) (who has yet to announced its favourite candidate).

My short list includes (in no particular order) two who are already working on their presidential campaign; Amr Moussa who has the money and Dr. Adbel Moneim Aboul Fotouh who has a massive army of volunteers across the country. The third on the list I call Mr. X, who has not yet even declared his intention to run, and could be backed by Egypt’s rich and powerful or even by the MB, if they decide that Moussa and Fotouh are not the right candidate to support.

Fotouh is an ex-MB executive member. He was fired after he decided to go against the majority decision made by the MB to have no candidate in the presidential election. The rational behind this decision was to enhance checks and balances: since the MB will form the majority in the lower and upper houses and eventually the government, the president should not be from the MB.

Fotouh was among the minority vote on the MB’s executive and declared that he will run anyway, causing a split among MB members. Anti-MB politicians charge the organization of deceiving the public and making up the whole episode.

Fatouh is an MD who was involved in politics since his university years, being jailed several times. For the last 30 years he has served his profession well working with MD-Without Borders in Egypt and across the Arab world. He was elected to head MD’s professional organizations in Egypt and in the Arab world several times.

He is some 10 years younger than Moussa yet more articulate and more charismatic. He has an Obama-like physical appearance and is much taller and in better shape than Moussa. In media interviews he comes across as being honest and he will serve the country well.

I had the chance to meet Fatouh, and every bit of good in Fatouh’s public image shows up in a private conversation. If he can reconcile the differences between himself and the MB, and get their support, he will definitely win, and new Egypt will have a first class politician as president.

Moussa served under Mubarak for years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and then in the Arab League, where in the last 20 years he took the side of rich and powerful Arab countries in any dispute.  He was a civil servant all his life, never a political leader as Fatouh was, but he has the money to run a presential campaign. If the MB decide politically that he deserve its support instead of Fatouh, he could win.

As for Mr. X, he is anybody’s guess, and could include such names as Dr. Mohammed Salim Al-Awa, Dr. Abdullah Alashal or yet another undeclared candidate.

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