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Middle East
Amr Moussa to contest Egyptian poll
Chief of the Arab League and former Mubarak-era minister confirms that he will run in upcoming presidential election.
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2011 22:52 GMT
Amr Moussa served as ousted president Hosni Mubarak's foreign minister for 10 years until 2001 [Gallo/Getty]

Arab League chief Amr Moussa, a popular career diplomat, has confirmed that he plans to run in Egypt's presidential election expected later this year.

Moussa, a former foreign minister, declared his candidacy on Sunday, a day after a constitutional reform panel appointed by the country's new military rulers recommended far-reaching reforms.

The changes, if adopted in a national referendum, would open presidential elections to more competition and impose a two-term limit on future presidents - a dramatic shift from a system that allowed ousted leader Hosni Mubarak to rule for three decades.

Moussa told reporters the amendments were still under discussion but that any Egyptian can now run for president.

"God willing, I will be one of them," he said.

Strong following

Asked if he was going to run as an independent or join a political party, Moussa said: "This is a detail that we will deal with later."

As foreign minister until 2001, Moussa gained such a strong following among Egyptians that his nomination for the Arab League post was seen by some as an attempt by Mubarak's government to sideline him before he posed a political threat.

Following the toppling of Tunisia's president in January, he had warned Arab leaders of unprecedented anger among the Arab public.

Moussa met Joseph Lieberman, a  US Democratic senator, and John McCain, a Republican senator, on Sunday.

They toured Tahrir Square, the hub of the protests that overthrew Mubarak, a long-time ally of the United States.

"We're very happy to be here, it's very exciting new era for a great country, great history, great future," Lieberman said.

Protests continue

Earlier Sunday, about 500 Egyptians protested in Tahrir Square to demand that Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq resign, saying he is a continuation of Mubarak's rule.

"Shafiq should leave," they chanted.

Mubarak appointed Shafiq in a Cabinet shake-up early on in the uprising in a failed attempt to defuse the unrest, and he has remained in the position as part of a caretaker government.

Also on Sunday, villagers blocked a main highway in the southern province of Assiut blocked a main highway for five hours with burning tires and set fire to three government buildings to protest official corruption, witnesses said.

The demonstrators accused owners of local bakeries of selling subsidised flour on the black market and said the government should ensure better oversight.

In another village in the area, protesters demanding an investigation into government corruption set fire to three local government buildings.

More than 2,000 employees of the Assiut provincial government also went on strike for better living conditions, saying senior officials are distributing social benefits unfairly. Protesters in the area set a former ruling party building on fire.

Source:
Agencies
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