Shockingly, he’s running on an anti-Israel platform.

(CNBC) — A preliminary count of votes for Egyptians living abroad has put Islamist candidate Abdul-Moneim Aboul-Fotouh in the lead, followed by left-leaning Hamdeen Sabahi. The online statement by the State Information Service (SIS) on Saturday added that the figures “confirmed a sharp competition” for third between Amr Moussa and Mohamed Mursi.

The note did not elaborate on the precise breakdown of votes, or how many had been counted so far. A total of 587,000 Egyptians abroad registered to participate, according to the Supreme Presidential Elections Commission (SPEC). The figure represents just 1.13 percent of citizens eligible to take part, but nonetheless gives valuable clues about the current strength of the 13 candidates running for the top job. Almost 45 percent of Egyptian voters overseas reside in Saudi Arabia, and some 119,000 in Kuwait.

Numbers have gradually been trickling in from individual consulates and embassies around the world. In a press conference on Saturday, Egypt’s ambassador to Kuwait said that Mursi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), had garnered the most votes in what appeared to be a closely-fought race. Out of a total of 55,288, Mursi secured 17,139 votes. Aboul-Fotouh came in second with 14,109, followed by Sabahi.

The 58-year-old Sabahi has moved more into the limelight as of late, offering to many an acceptable trade-off by being neither associated with the former regime, nor linked to any Islamist movements. He has also been among the most outspoken critics of ties with Israel, a popular talking point among candidates and voters alike.

Update:

(Washington Times) — An Islamist who believes that the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States were an American conspiracy is the front-runner in Egypt’s presidential race, a new poll shows.

Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, formerly a leading figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, led the field of 13 candidates with 32 percent of the vote in a survey released Monday by the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

Mr. Abolfotoh expressed his views on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in an interview last year with Egypt scholar Eric Trager.

Mr. Trager, now with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, quoted Mr. Abolfotoh as saying:

“It was too big an operation. . . .They [the United States] didn’t bring this crime before the U.S. justice system until now. Why? Because it’s part of a conspiracy.” […]

The Washington Institute’s Mr. Trager said that “the notion that Abolfotoh is some kind of progressive is farcical.”

“He is a longtime Muslim Brother, a founder of the Islamist student movements of the 1970s, and somebody who still calls for implementing the Shariah,” he said. “His falling out with the Brotherhood was over differences regarding strategy and internal administration, not ideology.”

Mr. Abolfotoh has been endorsed by al-Gama’a al-Islamiya, a jihadist group the State Department designated as a terrorist organization.

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