Who's who in Egypt's presidential election

Arabian Business reveals the leading candidates as Egyptians go to the polls for the presidential election
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Amr Moussa

\n\nThe 75-year-old who was once Mubarak's foreign minister has positioned himself between the old order and the new, touting his government experience while seeking to show how he often defied his former boss. His years heading the Arab League support his pitch as the only experienced statesman among the front-runners, but opinion polls that put him in the lead also suggest a swathe of voters are still undecided. Islamists paint Moussa as a cigar-smoking bon vivant whose wealth renders him out of touch with the people. Moussa casts himself as a liberal nationalist best able to revive a moribund economy and cut poverty, dismissing his Islamist rivals as religious ideologues.

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Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh

\n\nA figure long respected for his defiance of authority during decades of autocratic rule, Abol Fotouh, 60, was ejected from the Muslim Brotherhood last year for running for president against its wishes. He may benefit from any popular disaffection with the Brotherhood, which has struggled to influence government policy despite dominating parliament and which has faced criticism for reneging on a pledge not to seek the country's highest office. But some people are puzzled at what Abol Fotouh stands for after he tried to lure the moderate vote with a defence of civil freedoms but then won the backing of Salafi leaders, whose strict Islamist views are anathema to liberals.

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Mohammed Mursi

\n\nPitched into the race by the disqualification of the Brotherhood's first-choice candidate, Mursi is struggling to dispel a reputation as the movement's uncharismatic Plan B. The 60-year-old engineer is a staunch Brotherhood loyalist and has struck a conservative tone at campaign rallies in an apparent attempt to discredit rival Islamist contender Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh. Mursi suffered a blow when Salafi leaders said they would back Abol Fotouh, but he has Brotherhood's formidable vote machine behind him.\n

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Ahmed Shafiq

\n\nMubarak's last prime minister trumpets his military background and executive experience to appeal to Egyptians frustrated by the disorder and political bickering that followed last year's popular uprising. Written off when his candidacy was briefly suspended last month, Shafiq, 70, has come back with a blitz of publicity, including expensive advertising spots in several prime Cairo locations. But he is a divisive figure who may struggle to shake off the stigma of association with Mubarak.

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Hamdeen Sabahi

\n\nThe leader of the pan-Arab nationalist Karama (Dignity) party is a leftist like his hero Gamal Abdel Nasser but found himself in jail several times for opposing the one-party state established by Egypt's Cold War-era president. A history of implacable opposition to autocratic rule could endear Sabahy, 57, to young revolutionaries who led last year's uprising and public servants who fear reforms to balance the state budget could cost them their jobs. He is running as an independent.

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Khaled Ali

\n\nThe youngest candidate at 40 years old and an activist lawyer, Ali has a dedicated following among young revolutionaries after campaigning for labour and social rights, and calls himself the candidate of the poor. A leftist who has opposed privatisation of several state firms, he has no party affiliation.

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Hossam Khairallah

\n\nCandidate of the Democratic Peace party, Khairallah, 67, is a former military man who spent many years in Egyptian intelligence and is campaigning on a platform of education reform, a civil state and cutting unemployment.

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Mohammad Salim El-Awa

\n\nAwa, 70, has chosen a less confrontational stance towards Egypt's interim military rulers than other Islamist contenders. The former secretary-general of the International Federation of Islamic Scholars is a jurist who helped draft laws in several Arab countries. He called upon Islamist candidates to unify ranks ahead of the vote but the appeal gained little traction.

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Mahmoud Hossam

\n\nAn independent candidate who hails from a military family in Alexandria, Hossam, 47, spent much of his career in state security. He says he would restore stability and the credibility of the police, and boost farm output to revive the economy.

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Hisham El-Bastawesy

\n\nA 60-year-old judge who campaigned against rigging of elections during the Mubarak era, Bastawisy lived in Kuwait until last year's popular uprising to escape what he called harassment and surveillance by state security. Bastawisy has said he espouses a free-market economy and social justice. He says he would focus on reforming education, developing skills training, and attracting investment.

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Abdullah Al Ashal

\n\nA law professor at the American University in Cairo and a career diplomat under Mubarak, he has worked on legal cases including the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing and the assassination of Lebanese politician Rafik al-Hariri. Ashal, 67, is the candidate of a Salafi-led party campaigning for social justice, freedom and an end to corruption.

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Abul Ezz El Hariry

\n\nThe 68-year-old leftist activist is from the Popular Socialist Coalition party, which he helped establish after quitting another leftist party, Tagammu.