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Over US mother, Islamist likely out of Egypt presidential race

April 6, 2012 - Cairo

Popular Islamist presidential hopeful Hazem Abu Ismail may opt out of the race in Egypt after the country's election commission said that he could be disqualified because his mother was an American citizen.

This development is likely to boost the chances of the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, CBS News reports.

The ruling is likely to draw an uproar from supporters of Ismail, a 50-year-old lawyer turned preacher, who in recent months vaulted to become one of the strongest contenders for president, with widespread backing from ultra-conservative Muslims known as Salafis.

The announcement is particularly embarrassing for Ismail, who used anti-U.S. rhetoric in his campaign speeches and rejected "dependency" on the America.

In recent weeks, he repeatedly denied the reports that began circulating that his late mother held U.S. citizenship.

A law put in place after last year's fall of President Hosni Mubarak stipulates that a candidate may not have any other citizenship than Egyptian-and that the candidate's spouse and parents cannot have other citizenships as well.

The commission, however, did not outright disqualify Abu Ismail because it has not yet begun the process of vetting would-be candidates' applications.

Abu Ismail is likely to fight for a way to stay in.

As the Sunday cut-off date for hopefuls to apply to run, the field for the May 23-24 election is beginning to become clearer after weeks of uncertainty.

Barring last minute surprises, it appears to be headed to a contest focussed between the Brotherhood candidate Khairat el-Shater and a popular ex-foreign minister and Arab League chief, Amr Moussa.


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