Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Egypt lays out presidential election rules

Egypt's ruling military on Monday laid out the rules governing the country's first presidential elections since a popular uprising ousted veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Only Egyptian nationals born to Egyptian parents and who do not hold dual citizenship can qualify for candidacy, according to the new election law issued by military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

Hopefuls must be endorsed by at least 30 members of parliament or 30,000 eligible voters.

They must have completed their military service and will not qualify if married to a foreign citizen.

Parties represented in parliament can nominate one candidate for the election which will take place over one day.

No date has yet been set for the presidential poll but the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which took power when Mubarak was ousted, has said it will take place no later than the end of June.

Under the terms of the new law, the election commission overseeing the process will be chaired by the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The law was published on January 19 but it was only made public on Monday.

General Mamduh Shahin, a member of the ruling military council, said that the law was issued by SCAF ahead of parliament's first session, which was held January 23.

"Parliament has the right to review all laws or declarations issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," Shahin told reporters.

He said that the registration date for candidates is yet to be decided by the election commission.

Earlier this month, SCAF said that candidates for the presidency can start registering from April 15.

Frontrunners in the presidential race include former Arab League chief Amr Mussa, a veteran Egyptian diplomat who was foreign minister under Mubarak, as well as Abdel Moneim Abul Fotuh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Nobel Prize laureate and ex-head of the UN atomic watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei decided to drop out of the race, complaining of a lack of democracy in Egypt.

Other candidates include Ahmad Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, as well as Salafist leader Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, Nasserite head Hamdeen Sabahi and Islamist independent figure Salim al-Awwa.

Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party scored a crushing victory in legislative elections, have said they will announce a consensus candidate for the presidential race before the poll.

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