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Egyptian lawmakers vote to bar Mubarak officials' presidential bids

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
updated 10:33 PM EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
Ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman is among the candidates vying for the presidency in Egypt.
Ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman is among the candidates vying for the presidency in Egypt.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • If approved, the measure would mean Egypt's former spy chief can't run in upcoming elections
  • The nation's constitutional court will have the final say
  • Omar Suleiman's candidacy has sparked controversy
  • He originally said he wouldn't run, but did an about-face last week

Cairo (CNN) -- Egypt's Parliament unanimously passed a bill Thursday that aims to ban former members of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak's regime from running for president for 10 years.

If approved, the measure would mean that one of the most controversial contenders in the nation's upcoming presidential election would be ineligible.

The nation's constitutional court will have the final say.

Ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman is among the candidates vying for the presidency in two-day elections that start May 23.

Suleiman entered the race just hours before the Sunday deadline, said Hatem Bjato, who heads the nation's election committee.

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Suleiman, who also served as vice president under Mubarak, had initially said he would not seek the presidency. But on Friday, he did an about-face, saying he felt obliged to supporters.

His candidacy has sparked controversy.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a "million-man" protest in Tahrir Square on Friday against the nomination of former members of Mubarak's regime, including Suleiman and Ahmed Shafiq, the former prime minister.

The Islamic group has nominated Khairat el-Shater, a multimillionaire businessman who spent 12 years behind bars under Mubarak's rule, as their No. 1 choice. Earlier this week, el-Shater 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."

El-Shater himself 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.

The bill lawmakers approved Thursday specifies that the former president, vice president, prime minister, vice prime minister and head of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party cannot run.

Next month's vote will be the nation's first presidential election since Mubarak's ouster in February 2011.

Twenty-three candidates are vying for the presidency. The historic vote 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.

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