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In brief: Secular, Islamist candidates square off

Fri., April 27, 2012

Cairo – Egypt’s presidential race is boiling down to a contest between Hosni Mubarak’s former foreign minister and two Islamists with strong bases of support after the election commission on Thursday released the final list of 13 candidates.

What has emerged as the key question in next month’s vote to choose the first president after nearly 30 years of rule by Mubarak is whether the country of 85 million takes a turn toward religious rule or remains a mainly secular state. Divisions in each camp have left the race highly unpredictable.

Islamists showed their electoral power in parliamentary elections late last year in which the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the ultraconservative Salafi movement won around 70 percent of the legislature’s seats. But in the presidential race, their backers are split between the Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohammed Morsi, and a more moderate Islamist, Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh.

Former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa has emerged as the strongest secular alternative.

Court ruling could throw prime minister out of job

Islamabad – Pakistan’s Supreme Court convicted Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Thursday of contempt for failing to revive a long-standing graft case against President Asif Ali Zardari, a ruling that could result in the premier’s ouster.

The court opted not to sentence Gilani to a maximum six months in prison. However, under Pakistani law, a conviction could entail disqualification from the office he has held since 2008.

Within hours of the ruling, handed down by a seven-judge panel, opposition leaders called for Gilani’s resignation.


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