Egypt’s top election body said Monday that the next presidential election will be held in March, and gave prospective candidates about three weeks to declare. So far the race has only one potential contender: incumbent Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. His most serious possible challenger to date, former premier and air force general Ahmed Shafiq, backed out of contention late Sunday after a mysterious string of events. That left the field wide open to El-Sisi, who hasn’t yet officially tossed his hat into the race.
In a televised press conference, the head of the National Election Authority, Lasheen Ibrahim, said voting in Egypt would take place from March 26-28, while Egyptians abroad would cast their ballots roughly a week earlier, over a three-day period. A second round of voting will be held in April if needed. Candidates must declare between Jan. 20-29, he said, hailing the vote as a testament to democracy.
El-Sisi is widely expected to seek another term, after spending his first taking tough steps dictated by the International Monetary Fund to reform the economy and cracking down on Islamists and critics. He faced one challenger in his 2014 run, winning by a landslide as the popular hero of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi’s ouster a year earlier.