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Egypt: The Fall, Rise and Fall of Omar Suleiman

It has been a dramatic few weeks in Egyptian politics. On April 6, 2012, Omar Suleiman, Egypt's former vice president and intelligence chief, announced his candidacy for president. Omar Suleiman is considered by many Egyptians to be part of the counter-revolution, one of the “remnants”, or unreformed loyalists of the former regime.

On April 13, tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square to protest against Suleiman's presidential campaign. Then, in a surprising turn of events, on April 14 it was announced that Suleiman was one of ten candidates barred from standing in the elections, apparently because he failed to get enough signatures to endorse his candidacy.

A panoramic view of Cairo's Tahrir Square showing tens of thousands of protesting against the candidacy of Omar Suleiman, April 13, 2012. Image by Flickr user Mosa'ab Elshamy (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

A panoramic view of Cairo's Tahrir Square showing tens of thousands of protesting against the candidacy of Omar Suleiman, April 13, 2012. Image by Flickr user Mosa'ab Elshamy (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

On April 12 blogger Raafat Rohaiem attacked Suleiman:

@Raafatology: سليمان يداه ملوثة بدماء الثوار.. ويجب منع هذا “النجس” من الترشح للانتخابات
Suleiman's hands are stained by the revolutionaries’ blood… And this “dirty man” must be prevented from standing for election

On April 14 Maikel Nabil Sanad, a prominent blogger and activist, wrote in a blog post entitled “Against Omar Suleiman”:

أعتقد أن موقفى من إسرائيل معروف ، بس فى نفس الوقت ضد عمر سليمان لأقصى مدى ، و فى نفس الوقت بستمتع بالتعليقات اللى بتتريق على عمر سليمان و بتربط بينه و بين إسرائيل … ماهو فيه فرق بين ناشط سلام و بين مسئول بيتاجر ببلده علشان مصالح شخصية ، ولا أية ؟
I think my position towards Israel is well-known, but at the same time I am totally against Omar Suleiman. And at the same time I enjoy the comments that make fun of Omar Suleiman and link him to Israel… There is a difference between a peace activist, and an official selling his country for personal gain, isn't there?
"The subtle questioning of Omar Suleiman's loyalties in Tahrir Square." Image by Twitter user @HannahAllam.

"The subtle questioning of Omar Suleiman's loyalties in Tahrir Square." Image by Twitter user @HannahAllam.

Suleiman has made an appeal to those (including Egypt's Christians) who are concerned that the Muslim Brotherhood is seeking to push through a conservative Islamic agenda in the country, and argues that he would stop Egypt becoming a “religious state”. Indeed, there are those who feel he would do a good job. Timmy tweeted:

@tamerhegab: To be honest, I don't mind Omar Soliman being president. The country will be up and running in 4 years; the Ikhwan [Muslim Brotherhood] will have gone. Perfect.

However, Mena Makram tweeted:

@menamakram90: انا مسيحي وعلى فكرة مش هرشح عمر سليمان وناس كتيرة جدا كدة متفتكروش انا احنا هنرشح اللي قتل الشهداء
I am a Christian and by the way I won't vote for Omar Suleiman, and many others will be like me; don't think that we [Christians] will vote for someone who killed the martyrs

On April 7, just after Suleiman announced his candidacy, political cartoonist Carlos Latuff published this image of him rising from the “trash bin of history”:

"Omar Suleiman, former Mubarak strongman to join Egypt presidential race." Image by Carlos Latuff.

"Omar Suleiman, former Mubarak strongman to join Egypt presidential race." Image by Carlos Latuff.

After the news of Suleiman's disqualification, artist Hazem Arafa made some changes:

Cartoon of Omar Suleiman by Carlos Latuff with changes by Hazem Arafa.

Cartoon of Omar Suleiman by Carlos Latuff with changes by Hazem Arafa.

Maha Abouelenein believes that there is still hope for Suleiman:

@mahagaber: The only candidate that can modify his paperwork to qualify is Omar Soliman – he has 48 hours to get remaining tawkeels [endorsements]

Suleiman's campaign has announced that all legal measures will be taken to challenge the election committee’s decision.

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