Egypt to hold May 26-27 presidential election

Egypt to hold May 26-27 presidential election
Egyptian judge, Anwar Rashad al-Assi, head of the presidential Electoral Commission, attends a press conference in Cairo to announce the timetable for the upcoming presidential election.

CAIRO - Egypt announced a presidential election for May 26-27, a poll likely to be swept by the retired army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who deposed the Islamist president in July.

Sisi is expected to win the vote riding on a wave of popularity for having removed the divisive president Mohamed Morsi after mass protests demanding his resignation.

The only other main candidate is leftwing politician Hamdeen Sabbahi, who came third in the 2012 election that Morsi won. The new president will be announced by June 26 at the latest.

The election would go into a second round on June 16-17 if there was no outright winner, but that outcome seems unlikely given Sisi's popularity and the absence of serious contenders.

The commission said registration of candidates would open on Monday and run until April 20, and campaigning from May 3-23.

The announcement of the dates by electoral chief Ashraf al-Asy came after Sisi resigned as defence minister and army commander last week to contest the election, pledging to eradicate "terrorism".

Egypt has been rocked by often violent protests and a spate of militant attacks which have killed almost 500 people, mostly policemen and soldiers, the government says.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, blacklisted as a "terrorist organisation", has said there can be no stability under Sisi as president, accusing him of having staged a coup against Egypt's first freely elected and civilian president.

The Islamists have vowed to continue protests, which along with persistent militancy, threaten to further damage the country's already battered economy.

At least 1,400 people, mostly Islamists, have been killed in a police crackdown on street protests, according to Amnesty International.

On Sunday, a student was killed at Al-Azhar university in Cairo, a prestigious seat of Sunni Islamic learning, in clashes between protesters and security forces, official daily Al-Ahram reported on its website.

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