Egypt vote puts Arab spring gains at stake

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Egypt vote puts Arab spring gains at stake

Egypt vote puts Arab spring gains at stake
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Fifteen months after ousting the dictator Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is voting in a presidential election that could determine just how much of a break from the past the country will take.

Many fear the changes protesters fought for during the Arab spring uprising are at stake. Two of the candidates have links to the old regime.

Amr Moussa, head of the Arab League for ten years, was once foreign minister and is one of the leading contenders.

Ahmed Shafiq, a former military commander, was named prime minister by Mubarak for what turned out to be a short spell during last year’s protests. Many associate him deeply with the old regime.

Shafiq has attacked Mohammed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood, which came out top in parliamentary elections: “That was a “mistake”, said Shafiq. “Egypt will have enormous problems if the Islamists get into power,” he added.

Mursi was originally the party’s reserve candidate but became its head when the original choice was disqualified.

Those backing political Islam have a choice: Moneim Abol Fotouh left the Muslim Brotherhood and is running as an independent.

Although he is seen as a liberal he is backed by Salafist fundamentalists. First round voting takes place on Wednesday and Thursday.

One factor that remains to be decided is how much power the president will wield. Our correspondent in Cairo, Riad Muasses, said: “The first thing that the constitutional committee should do is to draw up a new permanent constitution which will allow the elected president to exercise power constitutionally.”