Egypt's presidential hopefuls hold country's first TV debate


A vehicle drives past a billboard in Cairo advertising former Arab League General Secretary and presidential candidate Amr Mussa on May 8, 2012.



Egypt has held its first presidential debate, with the two front-running candidates facing off on television Thursday, Agence France Presse reported.

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In a contest aired on two private channels and watched by millions, former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa sparred with moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh.

According to Deutsche Welle, the four-hour event was “the first televised presidential debate in the history of the Middle East.”

While topics covered included staples such as health, employment and education, the more bristly issues of Islamism, identity and affiliation to the former government of Hosni Mubarak were dominant, AFP reported.

Abolfotoh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood, sought to portray himself as the candidate for progress.

He accused Moussa of being too close to the ousted Mubarak regime, while Moussa criticized his rival’s associations with the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

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Several news reports said that neither candidate emerged as the winner of the debate.

The first round of Egyptian voting will begin on May 23, with a run-off to be held in June if no candidate wins an absolute majority.