Presidential Nominations Close Ahead Of Egypt Polls

The deadline for registering as a presidential candidate has passed in Egypt, ahead of the country's first post-revolutionary polls.

Mubarak ally Omar Suleiman is one of 23 candidates hoping to run in the May electionThe deadline for registering as a presidential candidate has passed in Egypt, ahead of the country's first post-revolutionary polls.

Twenty-three candidates have submitted bids, including a last-minute application from former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

The Muslim Brotherhood has meanwhile put forward a back-up candidate, after questions over the eligibility of their first nominee.

Elections are due to start 23 May.

The polls are the first since the overthrow of long-time President Hosni Mubarak, who resigned last year amid demonstrations and is awaiting a verdict after being tried over the crackdown of protesters.

A provisional list of candidates will be published on Monday, but correspondents say the race looks set to be dominated by Islamists and officials who previously served in government.

Dramatic twists and turns

The run-up to the registration deadline was characterised by dramatic twists and turns as the race entered its next phase.

Omar Suleiman, who indicated on Friday he intended to run, formally submitted his papers to the election commission just minutes before the close, mobbed by supporters.

His bid prompted speculation that he will have the support of the country's ruling generals, and triggered criticism from the Muslim Brotherhood's nominee, Khairat al-Shater.

"I consider his entry an insult to the revolution and the Egyptian people," said Mr Shater, who was imprisoned during the rule of Mr Mubarak.

"Omar Suleiman has made a big mistake. He will only win through forgery and, if this happens, the revolution will kick off again."

Mr Suleiman, who served under Mr Mubarak, joins other nominees associated with the former leader, such as former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq.

Meanwhile, the Brotherhood, which put forward Mr Shater after promising not to field a candidate, registered a second candidate, Mohamed Mursi, who heads the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party.

The move came after it emerged that Mr Shater might be unable to stand as he was only recently pardoned for a conviction.

Mr Shater is one of several hopefuls who have had their candidacy questioned, including the liberal candidate, Ayman Nour, and an Islamist preacher, Hazem Abu Ismail, who is known for his anti-American rhetoric.

Mr Abu Ismail is likely to be disqualified after reports that his mother held a US passport, contravening election laws.

Also on Sunday, Mr Shater announced that the Brotherhood would not support a $3.2bn emergency IMF loan requested by the government, unless the terms of the deal were changed.

The IMF has said it wants consensus among Egypt's main political groups before pressing forward with the loan.