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Egypt: The Presidential Candidate Who Came in From the Cold

•, By Abigail Hauslohner / Cairo
 The conspiracies are coming true. At least that's how many Egyptians say they feel after a week of political surprises that have upset a list of frontrunners and shifted expectations for the country's first presidential race since the ousting of Hosni Mubarak last year. The election, slated for next month, will also mark the first democratic selection of a president in Egypt's history. The country will have a new leader after 30 years of dictatorship under one man.

Hundreds of people, ranging from mechanics to taxi drivers, have registered their candidacy for the top post in a process that officially ended on Sunday night. Until last week, polls and media speculation had pinned several Islamists and the former head of the Arab League as frontrunners. But many Egyptians, accustomed to the opacity of authoritarian system and the conspiracies it promotes, have long predicted that the future president would be a dark horse candidate; someone, they said, who would burst onto the political stage at the last possible moment.

On Saturday, the man who spent decades at Mubarak's side as the president's trusted intelligence chief — as well as, briefly, his vice president during Egypt's uprising last year — threw his hat into the ring.

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