An Egyptian politician who was President Hosni Mubarak's main rival in the 2005 election said on Monday he wanted to run again in 2011 and would challenge a rule that bars him from entering the race.
Ayman Nour, 45, who came a distance second to Mubarak in the last election, was jailed shortly after that vote for submitting forged documents when setting up his liberal Ghad (Tomorrow) party. He says the charges were politically motivated.
He was freed last February on health grounds after serving more than three years of a 5-year term. Egyptian law bans him from any political office for at least five years after the end of his original jail term. This rules out a 2011 campaign.
"This will be a legal and constitutional fight and we are ready to launch into it," Nour told Reuters on Monday, confirming he wanted to run again.
Nour, a feisty lawyer, was nominated to run by a majority of votes by the Ghad party's governing council on Sunday night.
"Last time the decision to run for president was my own but this time it is my destiny as the party has chosen me and this is a patriotic responsibility that I do not have the right to reject," Nour said.
Even with the ban in place, Nour said he would start his campaign on Thursday from places where his support was strongest in 2005, namely the industrial cities of Mahalla el-Kubra in the Nile Delta and Port Said at the northern end of the Suez Canal.
Nour started a campaign in October to prevent Mubarak, 81, passing on the presidency of the most populous Arab country to his politician son Gamal, 46, who has been tipped by analysts as his most likely successor.
Mubarak, in power since 1981, has not said whether he will seek a sixth six-year term in office in the 2011 presidential vote. He has never appointed a successor, encouraging speculation about who will govern next.
Both Mubaraks deny that Gamal is being groomed for the presidency. Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said in October it was still too early to expect Mubarak to decide whether to run again for president in 2011 and said that should Mubarak decide against running, the ruling party could find a candidate.
ReutersLast Mod: 16 Şubat 2010, 08:18