By Samer Al-Atrush / AFP
CAIRO: Egypt will vote on May 23 and 24 to elect its first president since a popular uprising overthrew Hosni Mubarak a year ago, the head of the elections committee said on Wednesday.
Farouk Sultan told journalists expatriates will be allowed to vote from May 11 to May 17 and that any run-off will be held on June 16 and 17.
“The result will be announced on June 21,” said Sultan, in keeping with a timetable set by the military rulers to hand power to an elected president before the end of June.
Sultan said there would be no international monitoring of the election.
The committee said 21 days of campaigning would begin on April 30, Reuters reported. The election committee set a spending limit for the upcoming presidential campaign of LE 10 million ($1.66 million) per candidate.
The poll comes during a turbulent transitional period during which the military, lionized for not supporting Mubarak during the uprising, has become the target of the people who spearheaded that revolt that overthrew him.
Anti-military activists fear that the military, long the most powerful institution in the country and whose ranks produced the last three presidents, will try to cling to power through a pliant civilian administration.
Last month, Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear watchdog chief turned Egyptian dissident, said he would not run in the election conducted under military auspices.
The remaining hopefuls, who may formally register their candidacies from March 10, include Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who served as Mubarak’s foreign minister for a decade.
Islamists, who won a majority of seats in parliamentary and senatorial elections, are expected to support one of three Islamist candidates, including former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh and hardliner Hazem Abu Ismail.
The Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) dominates the legislature, had said it will not field a candidate. However, the media have reported that it would support an Islamic-oriented candidate, possibly one who has not yet declared his intention to run.
Current Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby is mooted as a consensus candidate, but said he has no such plans, according to Reuters.
According to the military’s initial timetable, the presidential election was not to take place before a parliamentary-appointed panel finished a new constitution, in place of the one suspended after Mubarak’s ouster.
Military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi has called on parliament and the senate to meet on March 3 to elect the constitutional panel, but it is not clear whether it could finish its work before the start of the election.
Some presidential candidates have feared that by the time elections began, the constitution would have redrawn the political system to invest more powers in the hands of a prime minister, as the Freedom and Justice Party demands.
FJP officials have said they should be allowed to form the government, the current one having been appointed by the military.
The vote is seen as the first genuine contest for head of state since the overthrew of King Farouk in 1952 ushered in a succession of strongman leaders drawn from the military.
Mubarak clung to power for three decades, winning a succession of crushing wins in elections condemned by his opponents as heavily rigged, and many Egyptians believed he was preparing to hand power to his younger son Gamal. –Additional reporting by Reuters