It was a little more than a year ago when Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped down. It seemed the world was with Egypt, as the country tried desperately to formulate its own democrazy. Now, there's a critical development in the presidential elections that has many in the world wondering if the promise of the "Arab Spring" will come to pass.
The Islamist group the Muslim Brotherhood, a group with a troubled history inside Egypt, has announced it will offer up a presidential candidate.
The brotherhood won the first round of parliamentary elections following last year's uprising, but the group had promised it would not put forth a presidential candidate in next month's elections.
That all changed this weekend, when they announced 62-year-old multi-millionaire businessman Khairat Al-Shater would be their pick for president. He's the Brotherhood's chief strategist and longtime financial backer, who guided the organization from prison when Mubarak was in power.
Some are calling it a power grab. Members of the group itself have quit, calling it an "unprecedented crisis." The U.S. isn't praising or condemning the move, likely because the Brotherhood would immediately challenge one of the rising candidates: An islamic conservative who, among other things, has called for an end of the treaty with Israel and has questioned whether women should work outside the home.
This morning on "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien," Soledad talks to two members of the Brotherhood: Sondos Asem, editor of Ikhwanweb, an English language web site for the group, and Dr. Abdel Mawgood Al Darderi, a member of parliament from the Freedom and Justice party, the Brotherhood's political wing.
Soledad asked them as to the reason for the sudden reversal on their previous pledge not to put up a candidate for the presidency.
"We feel that the current candidates, they lack some leadership potential that would bring about stability in Egypt and in our international relations," Asem says. "We believe there is some type of leadership vacuum among the current candidates, and we feel that we now have historic responsibility to feel the candidate who we believe will provide this kind of responsible leadership and who will safeguard the democratic process, which we feel now is threatened by many attempts to dissolve the current parliament or to hinder the establishment of the current assembly."
Will Cain also asked if the Brotherhood was essentially saying two things at once on their intentions. "One of the charges that is often made against the brotherhood when you do what do you now is you make a tour around the country you say things to us in English you would be opposed to female genital mutilation but in Egyptian you speak the option. Which is the truth?"
"We expect that conspiracy theory is somewhat of the third world, not in the United States," Dr. Al Darderi said "We would like to believe one another. I got a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. This is what we believe in, and look what we did in the past and what we want. We participated in the revolution in Egypt to create the democracy rule of law and justice for all Egyptians and that is what we focus on."
"We would like to bring about economic stability," Asem adds. "We would like to bring about security and we want to build sustainable democratic institutions and this is what the Egyptian people want. The Egyptian people now are not preoccupied with any confrontation or any kind of instable relations with the outside world."