CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, in a policy U-turn, said on Saturday it would back its deputy leader for president, an endorsement that guarantees Khairat al-Shater a place among the front runners after the group initially said it would not field a candidate.
The Brotherhood said it changed tack after reviewing other candidates in the race and after parliament, where its Freedom and Justice Party controls the biggest bloc, was unable to meet “the demands of the revolution”, a reference to its mounting criticism of the ruling army’s handling of the transition.
Given the Brotherhood’s strong showing in the parliamentary election and its broad grass-roots network, the group’s backing for a candidate could prove a decisive factor. However, analysts say name recognition may also play a role in the race that could help others such as former Arab League chief Amr Moussa.
Analysts said the move suggested the Brotherhood, on the brink of power for the first time in its 84-year history, was worried it could have that power snatched away after decades of repression at the hands Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted last year.
“We have witnessed obstacles standing in the way of parliament to take decisions to achieve the demands of the revolution,” said Mohamed Morsy, head of the Freedom and Justice Party.
“We have therefore chosen the path of the presidency not because we are greedy for power but because we have a majority in parliament which is unable to fulfill its duties in parliament,” he said announcing the decision to back Shater.
The move will worry liberals and others who fret about the rising influence of Islamists after they swept parliament and now dominate an assembly writing the new constitution….