Egypt's presidential elections set for September 7

Egyptians will vote in their first multi-candidate presidential election on September 7, according to an official announcement on Sunday.

In a statement, the nation’s election committee said candidates can register their nominations starting on July 29 and that campaigning will begin on August 17 and end on September 4.

A general election is scheduled for November, but no date has yet been announced.

The Parliament, dominated by President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, adopted a constitutional amendment in May to allow more than one candidate to contest the election, replacing the system which allowed Mubarak to win four, six-year terms in “yes” or “no” referendums in which he was the sole

candidate.

A referendum on May 25 overwhelmingly ratified the amendment, but a judicial report later said that authorities rigged the turnout figures and forced state employees to fabricate the results.

The amendment was hailed as “historic” by Mubarak’s regime, but dismissed as a “farce” by opposition parties. It followed an unprecedented flurry of street protests demanding that Mubarak step down and mounting outside pressure for reform.

Mubarak (77) a close US ally, came to power in 1981 after his predecessor, Anwar Sadat, was shot dead during a military parade. He is widely expected to seek a fifth term in office but he has yet to formally announce his candidacy.

Egypt’s main opposition parties have said they are boycotting the election and urged Egyptians to follow suit.
They maintain that, after 25 years in power, Mubarak has an unfair advantage over any rival, with the pro-government media giving him daily coverage and the state machinery at his disposal.

Electoral fraud, according to rights groups at home and abroad, has been common in Egypt for the past 50 years, allowing Mubarak, Sadat and President Gamal Abdel Nasser before them to return to office through questionable referendums in which they won close to a 100% of the vote.

Mubarak’s government has rejected proposals for foreign election monitors, but is expected to agree to the presence of observers. - Sapa-AP

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