Egypt court bans Mubarak-era leaders from running in elections

CAIRO Tue May 6, 2014 2:54pm BST

Reda Shehata, a supporter of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak drinks tea as he holds his poster, outside the police academy, where Mubarak's trial will take place, in Cairo April 7, 2014. Banner (R) reads,   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Reda Shehata, a supporter of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak drinks tea as he holds his poster, outside the police academy, where Mubarak's trial will take place, in Cairo April 7, 2014. Banner (R) reads,

Credit: Reuters/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

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CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court on Tuesday banned the leaders of autocratic ex-president Hosni Mubarak's party from running in any coming elections but did not list any names, drawing complaints about a lack of clarity that could blunt the move's impact.

Mubarak's National Democratic Party won all elections during his 30-year rule, mostly by rigging outcomes, marginalising any credible challengers and suppressing dissidents, but was dissolved in 2011 after the popular uprising that toppled him.

But Egypt's democratic transition since has run aground, critics say, by the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood after the army's ouster of freely elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013 and broad crackdown on Islamist and liberal opposition.

A presidential election to be held his month is widely expected to be won by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, from the same military establishment which has dominated Egyptian politics for six decades.

Sisi said in his first televised interview on Monday that the Muslim Brotherhood, which won all five elections since Mubarak's ouster, was "finished" and would cease to exist if he becomes president.

In his ruling against Mubarak-era officials, Judge Karim

Hazem did not spell out the number, names or titles of those affected, prompting opposition accusations of ambiguity that could end up allowing some candidacies from the old regime.

"The ruling was not clear and did not respond to our demand. We want the judiciary to punish those who committed crimes, both political and criminal ones, and not all and everyone," prominent Egyptian activist and lawyer Gamal Eid said.

Tuesday's case was brought to court a few months ago by a liberal lawyer. Judicial sources said the judge was unable to name the officials that the ruling would be applied to and left that task to the elections committee.

After the vote for president there is to be a parliamentary election but liberal politicians this could bring back many Mubarak-era politicians due to the weakness of current political parties, most of which were formed after Mubarak's fall. Since Mursi's ouster following mass unrest against the Brotherhood leader's rule, the army-backed government has sought to crush the veteran Islamist movement in operations that have left hundreds dead and put thousands in jail.

Top Brotherhood figure Mohamed Badie and 682 Brotherhood members and supporters were sentenced to death last month over the violence that erupted after Mursi was deposed.

(Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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