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Egypt presidential face-off: Islamists vs. 'regime remnants'

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In the capital, the candidates’ familiar faces seem to stare out from every wall, on campaign posters plastered all over the city, or banners fluttering in the breeze. On some posters belonging to Mr. Moussa, the word felool, a pejorative term referring to members of the previous regime, has been scrawled by passers-by.

In Cairo streets, on the metro, in taxis and cafes, it is difficult to escape the discussions and arguments over who to vote for. Some Egyptians are not disturbed by Moussa’s connections to Mubarak. After all, he left the regime a decade ago, pushed out when his popularity appeared to threaten his boss. He spent the next decade as leader of the Arab League, away from the growing power of Mubarak’s son Gamal, whose status as Mubarak’s assumed heir and reputation for corruption incited popular anger.

A steady hand?

Many of those who intend to vote for Moussa say they value his experience, which they say will enable him to start turning things around on day one in office. “He was in government for many years, so he knows how to get things done,” says Amr Ibrahim, an unemployed college graduate. Mr. Ibrahim said another reason he will vote for Moussa is to keep power from being concentrated in the hands of the Brotherhood, which took nearly half the parliamentary seats in recent elections, and reneged on its post-revolution pledge not to seek the presidency.

“We gave them parliament, and what have they done?” asks Mr. Ibrahim. “We don’t need another National Democratic Party,” he says, referring to Mubarak’s party, which dominated all branches of government. And his sentiment applies to Aboul Fotouh as well, though he is no longer part of the movement. “Aboul Fotouh is Ikhwan,” he says.

Yet despite his history with the Brotherhood, Aboul Fotouh’s inclusive rhetoric and moderate stances have won him a wide base of support. He was a reformer in the Brotherhood, and his differences with the organization on some issues (like accepting a Christian or woman as president) win him support among secularists. He delicately handles questions about implementing sharia, or Islamic law. Many prominent liberal and leftist revolutionary types are among his supporters, partly because he is the only front runner who can be considered a “revolutionary.”

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