president expected to call for elections in March: report
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[January 18, 2014]
CAIRO (Reuters) — Egypt's president
will announce that presidential elections will be held in March, in a
statement expected to come hours after the final results of a
constitutional referendum are made public on Saturday, a newspaper
Al Tahrir newspaper quoted Essam Eddine Abdel Aziz, first deputy
to the head of the State Council, as saying that President Adly
Mansour will call on Egyptians to take part in presidential
Abdel Aziz is also a member of the presidential and parliamentary
election committee, which he said will start meeting on Sunday.
In December, a draft constitution was amended to allow a
presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls,
indicating a potential change in a political transition plan
announced by the army after it toppled Egypt's first freely-elected
president in July.
The roadmap unveiled when army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
ousted President Mohammed Mursi of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood
movement said a parliamentary election should take place before the
A presidential source told Reuters that the president had yet to
decide which elections will come first.
A major milestone in Egypt's political transition, the constitution
must be approved in a referendum held last week.
It is expected to pass with overwhelming support from Egyptians who
staged mass protests against Mursi's rule before his ouster.
The new constitution could lead to an outright ban on Islamist
parties and strengthen the political grip of the already powerful
military establishment that has put itself squarely back at the
heart of power since toppling Mursi.
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Seeing Sisi as front-runner for president, some assembly members
wanted the presidential ballot held before legislative polls or even
at the same time, so that a strong presidential candidate could
forge an electoral alliance for the parliamentary race.
Sisi led the July 3 overthrow of Mursi and is widely seen as the
lead candidate for the presidency. He is expected to announce his
candidacy within a few days.
While Brotherhood sympathizers hold him responsible for the deaths
of hundreds of Mursi supporters killed in a crackdown on the
movement, other Egyptians see him as the kind of strong man needed
to restore stability after three years of turmoil.
The constitution will replace one signed into law by Mursi last year
after it was passed in a referendum. The new text strips out
Islamist-inspired additions introduced by the Islamist-dominated
assembly that drafted it.
(Writing by Michael Georgy; editing by Mike Collett-White)
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