Egypt: Citizenship Requirements at the Test of Presidential Elections

Published: 4/Jun/2012
Source: EUDO Citizenship Observatory

by Gianluca Parolin (EUDO CITIZENSHIP expert, American University of Cairo)

Citizenship seems to have become the last frontier of political litigation in Egypt. It had been so even before the constitutional amendments approved in a national referendum in March 2011, a month after the ousting of President Mubarak. The interest in citizenship has been recently revived by the taxing citizenship requirements set on candidates to run for Egypt’s presidency, effective 2012.

In early April, the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) decided not to put Hazim Abu Isma’il’s name on the presidential ballot because of his late mother’s acquisition of US citizenship.  Abu Isma’il was a front candidate for the Islamist bloc, had started a very active campaign, and seemed to be enjoying immense popularity at the moment of his disqualification.  Demonstrations against the PEC’s decision later led to the Abbasiyya riots that resulted in at least nine deaths and several hundreds injured.

After the first round of presidential elections, held on 23-24 May, a case has been filed in the administrative court to demand that the two sons of the front runner for the runoffs, Mohamed Mursi (candidate of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood), be deprived of Egyptian citizenship on grounds of their acquisition of a foreign citizenship.  The case is likely to have only minor political repercussions for two reasons.  First, even if Egyptian law requires an authorisation to acquire a foreign citizenship, the decision to strip the dual national who has not obtained the authorisation of her Egyptian citizenship is not mandatory, and requires a motivated decision of the Council of Ministers (art. 10 and 16 of the Law 26/1975).  Second, even in the unlikely case of the administrative court ruling to strip Mursi’s sons of Egyptian citizenship, this will not legally disqualify Mursi, as the amended art. 75 (now art. 26 of the Constitutional Declaration of 30 March 2011) does not mention the offspring’s citizenship.

Read on EUDO Citizenship Observatory website:

Themes: Nationality and Elections, Nationality of Politicians
Regions: North Africa, Egypt
Year: 2012