Egypt to hold presidential poll 'in May'

Vote for first president since Mubarak to take place about a month earlier than expected, state-owned newspaper reports.

    The military has faced mass protests calling for a faster transfer to civilian rule [GALLO/GETTY]

    Egypt's first presidential election since the fall of former President Hosni Mubarak will be held at the end of May, according to the state-owned Al-Ahram daily.

    Citing a government minister, the newspaper said on Wednesday that the election time frame would give presidential hopefuls three weeks starting on March 10 to declare their candidacy, followed by 45 days of campaigning.

    However, the actual date of the polls is to be set by the country's elections committee, Mohammed Attiya, the minister of parliamentary affairs and local development, told the paper.

    The judicial election committee is the only body with the authority to set the election date.

    Mounting pressure

    The country's ruling military council, which took over from Mubarak in February last year, has faced massive street protests and mounting pressure to cede power to a civilian government sooner than an end-of-June deadline the council had set.

    The military enjoyed hero status at the start of the uprising last year for refusing to shoot on demonstrators, but became the target of protester wrath over human rights abuses and the stifling of dissent.

    Election officials announced earlier this month that nominations for the presidential race would be accepted from March 10, signalling that the generals have accelerated their planned handover of power by about a month.

    Under new rules approved in a referendum last year, presidents will in future be limited to two consecutive, four-year terms.

    The poll follows the completion of the first election since the uprising for the country's lower house of parliament, which saw Islamist parties take the majority of seats.

    The Muslim Brotherhood, through its Freedom and Justice Party, took about 45 per cent, while the Nour Party, representing ultraconservative Salafis, took about 22 per cent.

    Secular liberals and leftists won just 16 per cent. Parties whose membership has been tied to Mubarak - the so-called "felool" - managed to win roughly five per cent.

    The first phase of voting for the country's upper house of parliament, a largely consultative body with limited powers, began last month. The second and final stage began on Tuesday, though it was marked by reports of low turnout.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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