Omar Suleiman has died at 77, while undergoing medical tests in the United States.
He will not be missed among Egypt’s revolution-minded citizens, and he will be remembered both for the human rights violations that he is alleged to have committed as Egypt’s top intelligence chief for decades. I think most of all, he’ll be remembered for his visible role as the vice president in the last, hectic days of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. When the end came for the regime, it was Suleiman’s glassy face we remember, hours before the military brass issued its Communiqué No. 1, bringing the curtain down.
But recall that Suleiman was disqualified — along with several other top candidates — for the presidential race. In the wake of that decision, former Mubarak prime minister Ahmed Shafiq effectively consolidated the pro-security, pro-military sector of the electorate to place second in the first round of the presidential election on May 23 and 24, and he only narrowly lost the runoff on June 16 and 17.
Had Suleiman not been disqualified, he may well have won the voters that ultimately supported Shafiq and perhaps had a real shot at winning the Egyptian presidency.
It’s hard to imagine how Egypt’s transfer could be any bumpier than it’s been, but it’s worth pausing to note that a Suleiman victory would have been an even greater disaster. In addition to what would have been a controversial return of the felool — ‘remnants’ — of the old regime to power, Egypt would today be dealing with the fallout of that president’s death in office just three weeks after his inauguration.
Instead, we are awaiting the appointment of Mohammed Morsi’s prime minister, and Egypt’s Administrative Court has passed on the opportunity to disrupt the work of the Constituent Assembly, the group that is drafting Egypt’s new constitution.