The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood named its chief strategist and financier as a candidate for president on Saturday, a surprising reversal of an earlier pledge to stay out of the race.
Khayrat el-Shater, a multimillionaire businessman who has leader for the group during the tumultuous transition since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in last year’s popular uprising, is expected to be the frontrunner in the race for the May 23-24 vote.
The decision pit the Brotherhood, who already controls about half of the seats in parliament, strongly against Egypt’s military rulers, who still receive U.S. funding and have demonstrated little interest in giving up power.
Some are concerned that a victory for the presidency could give the majority party an expansive mandate to establish strict Islamic law. Officials in the U.S. and Israel are also worried about such a win because the Brotherhood is a lot more difficult to control than the military junta, who have no scruples about suppressing democracy and doing the bidding of the Western superpower.
Incidentally, Mubarak’s former vice president, Omar Suleiman, may also run. Suleiman was Washington’s preferred leader to replace Mubarak immediately after his ouster and would undoubtedly be more amenable to the ruling military council.