Egypt Brotherhood forms human chain for candidate

CAIRO Thu May 17, 2012 7:02pm EDT

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood organized a 760-km (470-mile)-long human chain of supporters across the country on Thursday to back the group's presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi in a show of strength ahead of next week's historic vote.

From Cairo to Aswan, members of the Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), held posters of Mohamed Mursi, the Brotherhood's alternative choice to the group's initial candidate Khairat Shater, who was disqualified over a military court conviction.

Rows of activists and supporters, some wearing T-Shirts and caps emblazoned with a print of Mursi's face, held up campaign posters also showing the former engineer's bearded face and a campaign slogan reading: "Mursi, for president of Egypt"

The event, organized by Mursi's presidential campaign, highlighted the Brotherhood's powerful network of supporters across the country.

On its website, the Brotherhood said it had aimed to form the "longest human chain in the world".

Known to have been the most organized political entity during the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak, the Brotherhood boasts a campaign machine that can galvanize supporters across the country quickly.

Mursi has been trailing behind other presidential candidates, mainly former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and Islamist candidate Abdel Moneim Abol Fotouh.

But members of some liberal political groups say Mursi is likely to show considerable strength given the resilience of the Brotherhood's decades-old network, which supports his campaign. The Brotherhood's FJP dominates parliament after winning most seats in November parliamentary elections.

"We are confident Dr. Mursi will win from the first round," Yasser Ali, a member of Mursi's campaign, said.

In March, the Brotherhood reversed an earlier decision to not contest the presidency and fielded a candidate, saying its party in parliament had little room to make policies because power was still in the hands of the ruling military council and its appointed government.

(Additional reporting by Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Marwa Awad; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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