Moderate Leads in Some Polls As Egypt Election Nears

Article Summary
Polls show the presidential candidate with the most moderate stance toward Israel is leading, Smadar Perry reports, though such surveys are of questionable reliability in Egypt, where pre-election polling is a recent phenomenon. The surveys suggest candidates who avoid speaking negatively about the peace agreement with Israel benefit. 

At the height of the Egyptian presidential election campaign, a high-placed Egyptian officer warns the presidential candidates: “Stop addressing the issue of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. Don’t make proclamations about the possibility of revoking the peace treaty or making changes in it.”

The high-placed officer is Abed al-Monem Said, who served (among other positions) as head of the Egyptian army’s operations branch. He tells the presidential candidates, “Presidential candidates who talk about the peace agreement with Israel and make all kinds of proclamations are trying to make themselves more popular — but these announcements don’t help Egypt’s interests.”

In specific, Abed al-Monem Said warns against the incitements that were heard during the election campaign. For example, the threat of damaging the Israeli monument memorializing the fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers killed in 1973 during the Yom Kippur War that stands in Sinai. ”Such words may be construed as a one-sided breach of the peace agreement, and bring a wave of complaints from international institutions against Egypt,” he said.

In the meantime, a week before the opening of the ballot boxes for the first round of votes for the next president, Ahmed Shafiq’s chances for the presidency have risen sharply. Shafiq is a former Egyptian prime minister and aviation minister — and the most moderate candidate with regard to his attitude toward Israel.

Surveys show that Shafiq’s popularity was not affected by his daring statement, “I would be willing to visit Israel if the need arises.” In some of the opinion polls that were taken in recent days, Shafiq has risen to first place among the list of 13 presidential candidates, and now precedes the two candidates that led until recently: Amr Moussa, former secretary general of the Arab League, and Dr. Abdul Moneim Abu Al Fotouh, identified with the Islamic factions.

Shafiq (71), who served in the past as an Egyptian combat pilot and air force commander, was almost removed from the presidential race due to his close ties with the deposed President Mubarak. Shafiq was Mubarak’s protégé and close friend; Mubarak even appointed Shafiq to be prime minister at the height of the demonstrations that flooded the country and eventually led to Mubarak’s removal last February.  

Found in: israel, elections, egypt, ahmed shafiq

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