Egypt’s presidential election was extended to a third day on Tuesday night, in the latest of a series of attempts to encourage more people to vote. The announcement followed a last-minute decision to turn Tuesday into an impromptu public holiday – the first sign that officials were concerned about low turnout. Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour, has said the state is neutral in the race. But critics portrayed the moves as an attempt to boost the credibility of the former army chief Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who is expected to win the poll easily. A low turnout would undermine the argument often made by Sisi’s backers that he has the backing of an overwhelming majority of Egyptians.
As speculation about the expected presidential candidacy of popular Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi continues to grow, the secretary-general of the Presidential Supreme Electoral Commission, Hamdan Fahmy, said the delays in the election process were due to “technical issues.” Egypt’s long-awaited presidential elections are set to take place later this year, with most analysts expecting the polls to be held in the summer. Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour announced earlier this month that presidential elections would finish “before July 17.” Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on Thursday, Fahmy said: “Technical issues have caused the delay in the announcement of the timetable for the presidential elections and the opening of the registration of candidates.”
Egypt’s interim president on Saturday issued a much-anticipated decree governing an upcoming presidential election that clears the way for a vote many expect will be won by the country’s military chief. Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has not yet officially announced he will run for president, but it is a widely expected move. After the Interim President Adly Mansour’s legal adviser, Ali Awad, announced the move on state television, the election commission is expected to set the date for the vote in April, opening the door for candidates to run. The election is a key step in a transition plan laid out by interim authorities in July after the army ousted President Mohammed Morsi.
Egypt’s military-backed government reversed field, saying it would conduct presidential elections before a parliamentary vote, officials said. The next leader looks increasingly likely to be the military’s chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who was promoted to field marshal Monday and has indicated he was mulling a bid, several media outlets reported. The decision Sunday to flip the elections and parliamentary vote changes the electoral schedule set by the military after it ousted President Mohammed Morsi in July, putting the nation’s next leader in a position to sway voters toward parliamentary candidates he supports, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Egypt’s interim president, Adly Mansour has announced that Egypt will hold a presidential election before parliamentary polls, changing a political “road map” laid down after the army overthrew Mohamed Morsi last summer. The long-expected change could pave the way for the swift election of General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the popular defence minister who many expect will run for the presidency. The “road map” had called for parliamentary elections first, but many of Egypt’s political parties said they would not be ready for a legislative vote this spring. “Most of the political forces demanded presidential elections first,” Mansour said in a televised address, “and I have amended the road map to meet their demands.”
Jail sentences of between six months and three years will be imposed on those proven to have voted more than once in the constitution referendum, Administrative Development Minister Hany Mahmoud announced on Thursday. The announcement comes after interim President Adly Mansour amended the political rights law on Monday to allow citizens to vote in the referendum at polling stations not affiliated to the address listed on their national identification card if they live in a different governorate. Citizens who reside in their hometown must vote at their registered polling station, Mahmoud added. He said that over 200 polling stations have been allocated for those residing outside their home governorates.
Egypt’s National Alliance Supporting legitimacy (NASL), the group calling for the return of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, announced it will boycott the upcoming national referendum on the amended 2012 constitution. “Boycott the null and void referendum which will be carried out under a fascist military coup,” a spokesman for the alliance announced in a news conference Sunday evening. The group cited “political, legal and procedural” reasons to boycott the poll, scheduled by interim president Adly Mansour for 14 and 15 January 2014. “They have no answers to a scenario in their so-called roadmap based on a no vote in the referendum, which hints to an intent on rigging the poll results.”
Presidential Constitutional Adviser Ali Awad held a meeting on Thursday with representatives of political groups including Wafd Party, Tamarod movement and National Salvation Front to agree on the new electoral system, according to which upcoming parliamentary elections will be held, ahead of issuing a law by Interim President Adly Mansour, sources said. Sources referred to a partial agreement on the mixed electoral system which allocates 80 percent of the seats to single-winners and 20 percent to the list-based system. The 444 seats will be divided among constituencies like before with two seats at each electoral district for the single-winner. Another 111 seats will be added to the parliament making the total 555 seats. Meanwhile, Ali Awad, the Constitutional Affairs Advisor to the President, denied in a press release that the presidency would approve allocating 80 precent of the seats to individual candidates and 20 precent to candidates’ lists.
Egypt’s political transition was pitched into uncertainty on Sunday when a draft constitution was amended to allow a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, indicating a potential change in the army’s roadmap. The roadmap unveiled when Islamist President Mohamed Morsi was ousted in July said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft finalized on Sunday by the 50-member constituent assembly avoids saying which vote should happen first, leaving the decision up to President Adly Mansour. “Now we have approved the draft,” Amr Mussa, the head of the 50-member constitution-drafting panel, announced on live television. “The draft will be given to (interim president) Adly Mansour on Tuesday,” he said, adding: “Long live Egypt.” The draft also says the “election procedures” must start within six months of the constitution’s ratification, meaning Egypt may not have an elected president and parliament until the second half of next year.
Egypt’s interim rulers issued a elections timetable in efforts to drag the country out of crisis that has claimed 51 lives in protest action. The streets of Cairo were quiet on Tuesday, but Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement called for more protests later in the day, raising the risk of further violence. Under pressure to restore democracy quickly, Adli Mansour, the judge named head of state by the army when it brought down Morsi last week, decreed overnight that a parliamentary vote would be held in about six months. That would be followed by a presidential election.
Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has rejected a timetable for new elections laid out by interim president Adly Mansour, saying it is illegitimate. The Tamarod protest movement has said it was not consulted on the election plan and has asked to see Mr Mansour. Meanwhile, ex-finance minister Hazem el-Beblawi has been named interim prime minister, and opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei vice president. It follows the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi by the army last week.
A spokesman of interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour says the Muslim Brotherhood can run candidates in the upcoming elections that are supposed to be held according to the military’s roadmap. “We extend our hand to everyone, everyone is a part of this nation,” Mansour’s media advisor, Ahmed al-Muslimani, stated on Saturday. “The Muslim Brotherhood has plenty of opportunities to run for all elections, including the coming presidential elections or the ones to follow,” he added. However, many Muslim Brotherhood supporters were not ready to quietly accept the military’s decision to oust President Mohamed Morsi.
Egypt’s military suspended the constitution Wednesday and ordered new elections, ousting the country’s first freely elected president after he defied army demands to implement radical reforms or step down. Army chief of staff Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking on national television in front of a row of prominent political and religious leaders, said the military was forced to act after President Mohammed Morsi had refused for weeks to set up a national reconciliation government. Al-Sisi said the chief judge of the constitutional court, backed by technical experts, would have full powers to run the country until the constitution is amended and new elections are held. Adli al-Mansour, the 67-year-old head of Egypt’s supreme constitutional court, is to be sworn in Thursday as interim president, state media reported. The army said the interim government would set the timetable for elections.