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Egypt’s first female presidential candidate worries the powers-that-be

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Summary of story from Guardian, August 5, 2011

Bothaina Kamel, journalist and celebrity broadcaster, is standing in the forthcoming elections for Egyptian president, the first woman ever to do so (see WVoN story).

“By putting myself forward I am making this democratic right – the right of a woman to be president – a concrete reality, and that alters expectations,” she says.

The 49-year-old believes marginalised groups in the country will benefit most from her candidacy.

Although she only has 1,000 supporters on her Facebook site (presidential rival Mohamed ElBaradei boasts a quarter of a million), there is something about Kamel that seems to spook Egypt’s powers-that-be – and it involves a lot more than her gender.

Since she announced back in April her intention to compete in Egypt’s first ever democratic presidential elections, her efforts to recalibrate the balance between state and society have come under sustained attack from many directions, including the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) whom Kamel accuses of being an enemy of the revolution.

Fundamentally, Kamel views herself as a challenge to the culture of secrecy that permeates the top brass of the military, an institution which was closely invested in the regime of its former commander-in-chief Mubarak, and whose material interests could be threatened by any radical reform.

Kamel reportedly doesn’t “expect anything” when asked about her chances of winning in the elections which would most likely take place next year.

“If you have no expectations, then you will find the good in whatever transpires.”

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