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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Egypt sets election date as potential El Sisi rivals are elbowed out of the race

A growing list of nominees have withdrawn their bids or have seen them blocked

Head of the National Election Commission Lasheen Ibrahim speaks during a news conference in Cairo. Khaled Elfiqi / EPA
Head of the National Election Commission Lasheen Ibrahim speaks during a news conference in Cairo. Khaled Elfiqi / EPA

The first round of voting in Egypt's presidential election will take place on March 26-28 the country’s election commission said on Monday, though it is unclear who will run against the incumbent president Abdel Fattah El Sisi, widely thought to be pursuing a second term.

If one candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the votes the winner will be announced on April 2. If no candidate receives a majority, a run off election will take place. Egyptians abroad will vote March 16-18.

Government supporters have been putting up banners in a show of support for the general-turned-president Mr El Sisi, at times signing their names in public endorsement.

Mr El Sisi did not have a formal campaign in the 2014 elections, but supporters traveled the country and held rallies in his support. He was elected with 97 per cent of votes, after voting was extended by one day to encourage a greater turnout.

His most serious challenger so far, former premier and air force general Ahmed Shafiq, backed out of the presidential race on Sunday, saying that he had reconsidered.

After his defeat against former president Mohamed Morsi in the 2012 presidential elections, Mr Shafiq left for the UAE, where he announced his intention to run for president. After returning to Egypt on December 2 he stayed in a hotel rather than his home, where his family and lawyers said they had no news of him upon his arrival.

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Read more:

Former Egyptian prime minister retracts bid for presidency

Former Egyptian PM Ahmed Shafiq leaves UAE for Cairo

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Egyptian courts have barred at least one military candidate, Colonel Ahmed Konsowa, from running for president.

A military court sentenced colonel Konsowa to six years in prison for wearing his military uniform while voicing his political views and announcing his presidential aspirations in a video he posted online in November.

It is thought that lawyer and activist Khaled Ali may also be prevented from running.

In September a Giza court convicted Mr Ali, 45, of public indecency. Mr Ali allegedly made an improper gesture while celebrating his successful challenge of a government decision to transfer control of two Red Sea islands from Egypt to Saudi Arabia. He was sentenced to three months in prison and a 1,000 EGP (208Dhs) fine. Mr Ali is currently appealing the verdict.

According to independent daily Al-Tahrir, Mr Ali said in court that his charges stemmed from his attempt to run for president.

Dozens of riot police armed with batons and shotguns guarded a North Giza court as the proceedings unfolded.

The nephew of former president Anwar Sadat, Mohamed Anwar Sadat, is also set to run for president. Mr Sadat has submitted complaints to the electoral commission accusing security bodies of preventing him from organising electoral rallies and making official visits to members of parliament in order to gather the 20 signatures needed in order to be nominated.

Candidates must receive signatures from 20 members of parliament or 25,000 signatures from eligible voters in 15 governorates in order to be nominated, according to presidential elections law. The deadline for candidacy is January 29, giving presidential hopefuls a small window to fulfill the paperwork. According to the constitution elections must begin 120 days before the end of the current presidential term, which ends on June 2nd.

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