A group of six presidential hopefuls said on Wednesday they wanted Egypt’s first free election to be held in April, far earlier than the timetable envisaged by the ruling military council. Egypt’s generals have not set a date but, under a timetable that involves a parliamentary vote followed by drawing up a new constitution, analysts said the presidential race may not happen until the end of 2012 or early 2013.
Many Egyptians suspect that the military council, which took control after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office, may want to hold on to power from behind the scenes even after handing over day-to-day affairs to the government. The military denies any such intentions. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday also dismissed talk that the military might propose a candidate for the presidency.
“Don’t let this drag on, so that we don’t lose all hope,” Hazim Salah Abou Ismail, one of the six hopefuls, told a news conference, where representatives of the group announced their demands.
He said a swift presidential vote was important because the military council would still hold presidential powers, such as forming a government, even after the parliamentary vote.
The group, which include former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, said they wanted the election to be held on April 1 so the new president could take office on April 20.
The group demanded the parliamentary vote also be speeded up. Voting to the lower house starts on November 28, but voting for both houses will be staggered so it won’t be completed until March. Parliament then chooses the assembly that will draw up the constitution, further delaying a presidential vote.
Under the current timetable, parliamentary candidates must submit their nominations between October 12 and 18.
Salim al-Awa, another of the hopefuls, said the group wanted the parliamentary vote wrapped by the end of January, so nominations for the presidency could start on February 5.