x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

ElBaradei comes top in Facebook Egyptian president vote

Former UN nuclear watchdog chief wins 25% of the votes cast by the 267,000 participants in survey conducted by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

CAIRO // The former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohammed ElBaradei is the most popular choice for next Egyptian president, according to an Egyptian army survey conducted on Facebook, state media reported yesterday.

The survey, which was launched a month ago on Facebook, asked members to rate their favourite for the country's top job, in an exercise criticised as unrepresentative.

Mr ElBaradei got 25 per cent of the votes cast by the 267,000 participants.

He was followed by the Islamist thinker Mohamed Selim Al Awa with 17 per cent, and Ayman Nur, who heads the liberal Al Ghad opposition party, with 13 per cent.

The survey was conducted by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power when the former president Hosni Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising in February. No explicit purpose was stated or the survey.

The military council has yet to set the date for presidential elections, but said polls for the country's leader would be organised after legislative elections in autumn and the drafting of a new constitution.

Its online survey has been criticised for being limited to the Facebook community, which does not reflect dynamics on the ground.

Critics also slammed the army's choice of candidates, which included Mr Mubarak's former spy chief, Omar Suleiman, who was briefly vice-president, and Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander who headed Mr Mubarak's last cabinet.

Mr Suleiman came fourth in the online survey, although he has no plans to run for president, according to recent statements he made to the media.

The month-long survey, which ended yesterday, comes at a time of political upheaval, culminating this week in a cabinet reshuffle aimed at placating protesters who are furious at the slow pace of reform.

Protesters who first took to the streets to demand Mr Mubarak's resignation have increasingly directed their anger at the ruling military, accusing it of maintaining its absolute grip on power and using Mubarak-era tactics to stifle dissent.