The leading candidate in the Egyptian presidential elections is Hosni Mubarak’s former foreign minister, Amr Moussa, according to an opinion poll published on Monday.

The poll, conducted by the Al-Ahram Center for Political Studies, predicted Moussa would receive 41.1% of the popular vote, with his closest rival among the 13-candidate field being former Muslim Brotherhood member and independent candidate Dr. Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh, who scored 27.3%.

In third place, according to the poll, was former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq with 11.9%. Shafiq recently succeeded in contesting attempted disqualification from the May 23-24 elections.

Fourth place in the poll was taken by conservative Islamic representative Mohammad Salim Al-Awa, with 5.7%. Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed El Morsi trickled in with just 3.6% of the votes.

If the poll proves accurate then Moussa and Abolfotoh will go on to a second round of voting on June 16-17.

Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

Egyptian presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh (photo credit: AP/Khalil Hamra)

However, a former jihadist group said it will back the moderate Islamist candidate in Egypt’s presidential elections, dealing a further blow to the powerful Muslim Brotherhood.

Assem Abdel-Maged of the Gamaa Islamiya said on Monday that an internal poll showed that a majority in the group supported moderate Islamist Abolfotoh.

The decision boosts Abolfotoh’s chances in the Gamaa’s strongholds in southern Egypt and leaves the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest political group, more isolated as it moves closer to a confrontation with Egypt’s ruling generals.

In an interview with Al-Jazeera, Abolfotoh said the peace treaty with Israel would continue, “but it will be revised. The articles in it which are in Egypt’s interests will be kept. Those which are detrimental to Egypt’s interests will be taken out.”

In a surprise decision, an influential group of ultraconservative Salafis said last week it was also supporting Abolfotoh for the May vote.

The Brotherhood won just under half the seats in parliament in recent elections.