Officials on Sunday said the chosen candidate will subsequently be put for approval to the people at a referendum in September.

It is still not clear whether President Husni Mubarak, in power for 23 years, will seek a fifth term, although parliament has passed a motion in support of his candidacy.

"The nomination on the president of the republic by the People's Assembly will take place in May, at the end of the current parliamentary session, and the presidential referendum in September," Safwat al-Sharif, secretary-general of the ruling National Democratic Party, said.

Election process

Egypt chooses its president in a two-stage process - first, the parliament dominated by the ruling party must choose a candidate with a two-thirds majority and then the name is put to a popular vote in a referendum.

However, the opposition has long called for constitutional reform to allow the president to be chosen from a list of candidates by universal suffrage, as well as a reduction of the presidential mandate.

The presidential mandate in Egypt lasts six years, but there is no limit on how many times the person can stand. The country has been under a state of emergency since president Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

In a rare sign of dissent, about 300 people demonstrated in Cairo last month against the possibility of Mubarak running for a fifth term in office, denouncing what they called a "hereditary presidency".