May 11 2012
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Egypt front-runners trade blows over their pasts
11 May 2012
BEIRUT: Two of Egypt’s favorite presidential candidates hit at each other’s past in the country’s first ever presidential debate Thursday.
Amr Moussa and Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh, tipped by polls to be the leading contenders in the May 23 election, traded accusations over their political histories. Abol Fotouh, an independent Islamist and a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, fired at Moussa’s past role as foreign minister under the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
“How can you bring about change after being part of the former regime? Do you think the Egyptian people who revolted to bring this regime down will be eager to elect one of its former symbols?” Abol Fotouh said, addressing his opponent.
“I had the courage to oppose the regime from within when I was foreign minister and I decided to quit when things reached a dead end. I knew the consequences of my opposition, but yet I continued to do what I thought was right,” he added.
“I do not recall you voicing strong opinions about the former regime. Your opposition was simply linked to your affiliation to the Muslim Brotherhood. You always opposed within the framework of the Brotherhood and most of the time you were defending your group rather than standing up for the rights of the entire Egyptian people,” the former Arab League chief told his rival.
Abol Fotouh said he was proud about his past affiliation with the Brotherhood, describing the group as an “honorable national movement.”
“Yes I was part of the Muslim Brotherhood and there is nothing wrong in opposing the former regime under the Brotherhood’s or any other group’s banner,” he said.
“However, my opposition was not restricted to my former group’s platform. I was active on several other fronts as well, and I do not need to prove what many people know. With all due respect, your information is not accurate,” he added.
Abol Fotouh quit the Muslim Brotherhood in April 2011 when he decided to run for presidency, contrary to the group’s wishes.
“I quit the Brotherhood because I wanted to be a candidate representing all Egyptians and not only one group,” he said Thursday.
Abol Fotouh has recently won the endorsement of Egypt’s Salafist movement as well as a number of liberal figures, including prominent Internet activist Wael Ghonim.
Moussa said he was wary of such an endorsement.
“I am wondering how Dr. Abol Fotouh won the support of Salafists and liberals at the same time,” Moussa said. “He must be playing different cards at once.”© Copyright The Daily Star 2012.
© Copyright Zawya. All Rights Reserved.
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