Egypt army rulers: no change to election dates

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CAIRO: Egypt’s armed forces ruled out any change to election dates, saying the military council wanted to hand power back to civilians after elections by the end of 2011.

Some political groups have called on the ruling military council, which took over after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February, to delay elections, arguing that holding the vote in September will not give them time to organize and raise campaign funds.

They also say that the September date favors Egypt’s well-established Muslim Brotherhood group.

General Hassan El-Rowainy, of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, told Al-Hayat channel 2 television in an interview broadcast Friday that parliamentary elections would be held on time in September.

"The year will not pass without a president for the republic being elected," Rowainy said.

"The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces insists on ending the transitional period at the [previously] set time, and for the army to return to its barracks," he said.

In a referendum in March, 77 percent of voters said they backed constitutional amendments that would allow the military to hold parliamentary elections in September and presidential elections before the end of the year. But a new election law has yet to be finalized.

The army has denied taking sides and said it was eager to hand over power to civilians.

Western diplomats say there is no sign the military wants to retain power, though it may remain in the background as Egypt’s "guardian."

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