Abdel Fattah el-Sisi gained eight times the number of signatures needed to register as a candidate in Egypt's presidential election, according to his campaign.

A legal adviser of Sisi, the country's former military chief who orchestrated the 2013 overthrow of the then president, Mohamed Morsi, delivered the 200,000 signatures to the election commission on Monday.

We want the people of Egypt to move forward, we do want these elections to herald the beginning of the next phase of life in Egypt.

Catherine Ashton, EU foreign policy chief

Candidates must secure at least 25,000 signatures from at least 15 of Egypt's 27 provinces in order to run in the election, which is scheduled for May 26 and 27.

Sisi was the first hopeful to submit the signatures and more continue to pour into his campaign headquarters in Cairo.

It is a "unique example of support and national backing", Sisi's campaign said.

Hamdeen Sabahi, a left-wing politician who finished third in the 2012 presidential election, is likely to be Sisi's main rival.

Sisi is however expected to win. He has enjoyed nationwide support in the nine months since the removal of Morsi.

However, he has yet to announce an election manifesto.

The two days of voting are the second phase in a political plan announced by Sisi the day he removed Morsi while defence minister and head of the army.

The first was the drafting and adoption by referendum in January of a new constitution. The presidential ballot will be followed by a parliamentary election later this year.

The EU's foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said on Monday that the EU would send an electoral observation mission to Egypt for the May election.

"This is a strong partnership; we want the people of Egypt to move forward, we do want these elections to herald the beginning of the next phase of life in Egypt," she said.

Mark Perry, a military analyst, speaks on Sisi's presidential bid

But Ashton also expressed concern about the arrests of activists and journalists and a recent court ruling that sentenced more than 500 Morsi supporters to death.

At least 16,000 Morsi supporters have been detained and hundreds killed in the nine months since the military took over the country.

The interim government has also held three Al Jazeera English staff in prison since December, accused of "spreading false news" and "belonging to a terrorist organisation" for their reporting in the aftermath of the removal of Morsi. Al Jazeera rejects the charges as baseless and demands the release of its staff.

Source: AP