Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday denied rumors that the army planned to field a candidate in the next presidential elections, the official MENA news agency reported.
There has been much speculation as to whether an army man would be the next president, particularly after increasing public appearances by Tantawi, including one on a Cairo street in civilian clothes which raised questions about his political intentions.
“These are rumors that should not be considered. We must not waste time talking about such rumors,” Tantawi said in response to a question on whether the military would field a candidate in the next elections.
“We are not a party to the political process, we are working to hand over power as soon as possible,” Tantawi said.
The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which Tantawi heads, has yet to set a date for the presidential election.
Parliamentary polls will kick off on November 28 and are to take place over four months.
The military council has come in for criticism from activists for its handling of the transition from the authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak, since the veteran strongman’s overthrow in February.
SCAF has vowed to hand over to civilian rule.
Tantawi’s stroll in downtown Cairo last week, in a business suit and with no personal security in tow, unleashed a torrent of jokes and commentary.
That’s “Tantawi handing power to ‘civilian rule’,” wrote Adel on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the Muslim brotherhood has retreated from its decision to hold the presidential election after a referendum on the new constitution.
The brotherhood’s new Freedom and Justice Party viewed having a referendum after the elections will not represent a challenge and will not necessarily lead to the elections being repeated.
The brotherhood has objected to the new constitution saying that it will limit their political participation.
Recently, the SCAF have changed a clause in the elections law to allow party candidates to run for one third of the seats in parliament that were previously set aside for independent candidates, the government said on its website.
The brotherhood, which will contest up to half of parliament's seats, has not issued a detailed manifesto. Its leaders said the party is a civil group that has Islam as a “reference” point. They say the party seeks a constitution that respects Muslims and non-Muslims, will not impose Islamic law, and is committed to a pluralistic and democratic Egypt. The party has members from Egypt's Coptic Christian minority.