x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Presidential hopefuls seek early Egyptian poll date

The army council which took over after Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February 11 has pledged to hand power to civilians, but has yet to set a precise date for a parliamentary poll, and has not indicated when the presidential poll would be.

CAIRO // Seven presidential hopefuls will call on Egypt's ruling military council to fix an early date, possibly February or March, for an election for the presidency, one of the candidates said yesterday.

The army council which took over after Hosni Mubarak was ousted on February 11 has pledged to hand power to civilians.

But it has yet to set a precise date for a parliamentary poll, which is expected in November, and has not indicated when the presidential poll would be. Activists have been demanding a swifter move towards Egypt's first free votes in decades.

Amr Moussa, the former Arab League chief who is among those bidding for the presidency, said: "All of us are calling for an early date and fixed date for presidential elections and not to stay in a general frame without knowing [a date].

"We talked about February-March," he said, adding that they would make their call to the military council once they had agreed demands on other issues including the army's decision to extend emergency law and plans for a new electoral law.

The group of seven candidates include the former UN diplomat Mohammed ElBaradei, and Abdel Moneim Abul Futuh, formerly a senior member of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Mr Moussa said: "In my personal opinion, it is not necessary to impose emergency law at this stage or to extend it," adding that the group planned several further meetings to agree on this and other issues.

Egypt's military-backed government said it was reactivating emergency law after protesters attacked the Israeli embassy, prompting Israel to fly its ambassador home.

Many political activists are worried the laws will be renewed for another six months in October and may hinder the holding of parliamentary elections.