The Muslim Brotherhood, which currently controls the two chambers of parliament, has decided to field a candidate in the upcoming presidential election, in flagrant violation of a repeated promise to the Egyptian people not to do just that.
It declared Saturday that its deputy leader Khirat El-Shater will be its one and only candidate in the election, an announcement that has literally sent shockwaves across the country.
The group, founded back in 1928, had vowed during the January 2011 revolution and before the ouster of Hosni Mubarak not to field a candidate or even support any of its members who might run for the most-coveted post.
The pledge was reiterated repeatedly and always with the rationale that it would not be in the best interest of the country to have an Islamist at the helm of power in post-revolution Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood even went further in trying to prove its commitment to that decision by sacking Abdel Moneim Abu el-Fotouh, one of its leading figures, after he decided to contest the election.
But in a blink of an eye, the group decided to swallow that pledge and change the rules of the game.
But regardless of Shater’s chances of success, which are not as guaranteed as some might think, there are many reasons why I, and many Egyptians for that matter, will not be voting for him.
If the Muslim Brotherhood, of which he is the deputy leader, could not keep its promise to the people in an issue as fundamental as the presidency, how can I trust them to keep any other promise?
If the executive committee of the Freedom and Justice (FJP), the political arm of the Brotherhood, voted with majority last week against fielding Shater in the election, then who exactly decided that he will be the party’s candidate? This is undisputed evidence that the Brotherhood, or rather its leader, will govern my country not elected officials.
Why would I be willing to allow one group to run the country and be wholly in control of the parliament, the government and the presidency at such a crucial point in our modern history? Rebuilding Egypt after decades of corruption and mismanagement requires the collective efforts of all parties and powers, not just a one-party show.
If I wanted to vote for a Muslim Brotherhood candidate, then Abu el-Fotouh would seem the better choice. At least the man had the courage to present himself to the public with a vision for Egypt translated into an election project, as opposed to a person running because others ordered him to.
Why would I want a business mogul to be a president when one of the tragic flows of the Mubarak regime was getting in bed with business tycoons and giving them ministerial portfolios?
Why would I want a president with no political experience? Why would I vote for someone whose only credential is being a Muslim Brotherhood candidate?
Finally, why would I vote for a candidate physically-unfit to rule? Shater was pardoned from completing a jail term, albeit in a case cooked by the ousted regime, on medical grounds.
The Muslim Brotherhood made a tragic mistake by seeking to monopolize all the presidential, executive and constitutional powers in post-revolution Egypt.
Whether or not he will be elected, Shater’s mere candidacy will do a lot of harm.
If elected, Egypt will be in for another one-party show, and if he fails he will waste millions of votes that could otherwise decide the race to a worthy candidate.
But either way, many Egyptians will never forget, nor forgive, and the 84-year-old Muslim Brotherhood will pay the dearest price on the long run.
(Ayman Qenawi is a writer and editor based in Cairo.)