CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's military rulers on Wednesday lifted a ban preventing Ayman Nour from running for the presidency, opening the way for a presidential bid by the liberal politician who came a distant second to Hosni Mubarak in a 2005 election.
Nour mounted the most serious challenge to Mubarak that year. He was sentenced a few months later to five years in prison on charges of forgery that were widely viewed as trumped up as part of a political vendetta.
Under Egyptian law, a former convict cannot run for the presidency until five years after the end of their jail term - Nour was released in February 2009 on health grounds. But the pardon issued on Wednesday will allow him to run.
"The decision restores rights to where they belong and this is one of the results of the revolution," Nour, 48, told Reuters. Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011 in a popular uprising and the ruling generals who took over from him are set to hand power to an elected president by the end of June.
Nour told Reuters he would indeed run.
Last October, an appeal court had rejected a request by Nour to overturn the ruling against him.
The Mubarak administration called the 2005 election, Egypt's first multi-candidate race for the presidency, under pressure from the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush. With the resources of the state behind him, Mubarak won easily.
(Reporting By Tamim Elyan; Editing by Tom Perry and Mark Heinrich)