Omar Suleiman, Egypt's former VP, aims to run for president

Supporters of Egypt's former vice president Omar Suleiman in Abassiya Square in Cairo April 6, 2012 Demonstrators in Cairo had urged Suleiman to run

Egypt's former vice-president, Omar Suleiman, has said he intends to be a candidate in Egypt's presidential elections next month.

He had previously ruled himself out of the race, but changed his mind after demonstrators urged him to run.

Mr Suleiman served as Hosni Mubarak's vice-president before Mr Mubarak was ousted last year.

Salafist candidate Hazem Abu Ismail, and Khairat al-Shater from the Muslim Brotherhood, are also in the race.

In a statement to supporters, Mr Suleiman said he would run if he could get the 30,000 signatures needed by Saturday.

Mr Suleiman is supported by those who say the country is descending into chaos and losing direction, says the BBC's Wyre Davies, in Cairo.

He had previously ruled himself out of the nominations, citing the administrative burden.

Prior to the Egyptian revolution, the former intelligence chief had often been mentioned as a possible successor to the 82-year-old Mr Mubarak.

A close ally of the former president, Mr Suleiman was seen as a pivotal figure in Mr Mubarak's 30-rule rule.

Ultra-conservative

Nominations for the presidential election are due to close this weekend.

Omar Suleiman

  • Joined army in 1954
  • Mediated between Israel and the Palestinians
  • Appointed general intelligence director in 1993
  • Appointed vice-president 29 January

The presidential vote is the first since Mr Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011 after a popular uprising.

The military-run caretaker government is due to hand over power in June.

Meanwhile, thousands of Egyptians have protested in Cairo's Tahrir Square in support of a conservative Islamist presidential candidate, Hazem Abu Ismail.

Mr Abu Ismail, who supports an ultra-conservative version of Islam, may be disqualified from May's presidential election on the grounds that his mother was a US citizen.

Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat al-Shater registered on Thursday; the party had previously said it would not field a presidential candidate.

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