Both the Islamist and democratic camps in Egypt have been dealt a setback when a former air force general and Mubarak loyalist emerged as one of the two candidates who will compete in the second round of presidential elections in two weeks. Ahmed Shafik, a former minister in Hosni Mubarak’s cabinet and for a short while last year, Egypt’s prime minister, surprised many observers when he came a close second in the first round with 23.7 per cent of the vote.
Mohamed Morsi, chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party came first with 24.8 per cent, but this is generally viewed as a failure for the Brotherhood since it won around 43 per cent in last November’s parliamentary elections.
For Israel, the prospect of a Shafik presidency has given a ray of hope that the peace accords with Egypt are not dead and buried. While no senior officials have openly stated a position on the elections, one security source said: “The best guarantee for stability on the border and a future for our relationship with Egypt is a president like Shafik, part of the military establishment.”