Female ex-talk show host eyes Egypt presidency

Fri Apr 29, 2011 6:10am GMT

By Sarah Mikhail and Isabel Coles

FAYOUM, Egypt (Reuters) - Who better for president than a plain-talking, female former talk show host eager to tackle the corruption and nepotism blamed for Egypt's national malaise?

So says glamorous TV anchor Bothaina Kamel, one of the more unusual candidates to replace 82-year-old strongman Hosni Mubarak after a popular revolt ended his three decades in power.

Kamel, 49, rose to fame with her radio call-in show Eterafat al-Leyali (Night Confessions) in which Egyptians spoke freely of sexual abuse, infidelity and mistreatment by relatives.

She now aims to be Egypt's first elected female leader, saying her experience of engaging with people from all walks of life will appeal to voters frustrated at a growing rich-poor divide, the impunity of corrupt officials and pressure to conform to a strict moral code.

The military generals who now rule Egypt have promised to hold parliamentary and then presidential elections later this year.

Mubarak, his sons and several political allies are under investigation for graft and abuse of power. Popular opinion seems torn between desire to punish them and unease at the damage the probes are doing to Egypt's image.

"I think it's good to talk about everything. It's not good to try to cover the truth," said Kamel, who plans to set up a reality TV channel that will follow her electoral campaign.

"Transparency is very important," she said. "We are beginning a new era. If there hadn't been a revolution, I would never have run in the presidential elections."   Continued...

Powered by Reuters AlertNet. AlertNet provides news, images and insight from the world's disasters and conflicts and is brought to you by Reuters Foundation.