CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday said it decided to field the movement's deputy leader and top strategist as its presidential candidate, ending months of speculation about whether or not the group would seek to round off its success in legislative elections with a bid for the country's most powerful office.
Top leaders of the country's most influential political group announced in a press conference that it selected Khayrat el-Shater to contest the presidential race set to start in May.
The movement's decision to finally nominate one of its own is likely to escalate the group's confrontation with the council of military generals who took over when longtime president Hosni Mubarak was toppled in an uprising last year.
It will also widen the gap with liberals and secularists, who fear that the movement - which has largely espoused moderate rhetoric in the past year - will implement a hardline Islamist agenda once it has enough power concentrated in its hands.
Mahmoud Hussein, the group's deputy leader, said the decision was made in the face of "attempts to abort the revolution," after the military council refused several requests by the Brotherhood to appoint a cabinet of ministers.
The move reverses a pledge made by the group's leaders not to contest presidential elections to reassure liberals and Western countries fearful of an Islamic takeover.
The group won close to half of parliament seats in the country's first post-revolution elections in November. That victory was largely due to the Brotherhood's grassroots movement, however, and it is unclear how Shater will do against other candidates who might have greater name recognition and stronger television personas.