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Muslim Brotherhood leader backs candidate

CAIRO, March 16 (UPI) -- A member of the Muslim Brotherhood announced a decision to formally back a presidential candidate in Egypt, a decision that goes against the movement's pledges.

Hassan Gouda, a key figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, announced his decision to back the candidacy of former leading Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh, Egyptian news agency al-Ahram reports.

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After 30 years as a leading member, the Muslim Brotherhood stripped membership from Aboul-Fotouh after he announced in June he would run for president as an independent candidate. The group denied the move was a sign of disunity, noting it's open to independent action so long as those parties are aware of the administrative consequences.

The Muslim Brotherhood organized its post-revolutionary activity in the Freedom and Justice Party. FJP said it wouldn't field a presidential candidate and last week, Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said the group would expel anyone who supported Aboul-Fotouh.

The Egyptian news service said it's unclear who FJP would support but added it was unlikely to back former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa of former Foreign Minister Ahmed Shafiq because of their role in the regime of Hosni Mubarak.

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FJP said it wouldn't endorse a candidate until after a registration period ends April 8. The first post-revolution presidential election in Egypt is scheduled for May 23-24.

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