Egypt delays announcing final date for presidential vote

CAIRO (Reuters) – The judicial committtee supervising Egypt’s first presidential election since Hosni Mubarak was overthrown last year said yesterday it had yet to finalise a date for the vote, although an election official said it would be in the first week of June.

The committee had been expected to announce a date yesterday, but judges on the committee told a news conference the decision was being delayed as they worked out how best to ensure Egyptians abroad would have enough time to vote.

The army which took over from Mubarak in February last year has faced street protests and widespread demands they hand power to civilians sooner than the end-June deadline they had set themselves. Judges committed to meet the army’s deadline.

Farouk Soltan, the head of the committee, said the date would be set before March 10, when candidates can submit their formal nominations. The closing date for nominations would be April 8.

Several hopefuls have already announced they plan to run for office, including former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and ex-Muslim Brotherhood member, Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh. The current Arab League Secretary General Nabil Elaraby is mooted as a consensus candidate, but he has said he has no such plans.

“The committee has decided to postpone announcing the schedule for elections until it can reach a solution that will allow Egyptians abroad to vote in a manner that will make their participation real,” Soltan said.

This follows hiccups in voting for the estimated 8 million Egyptians living abroad during the parliamentary poll. Many complained they did not have time to register and diplomats said they were not given enough time for the count.

Egypt has a population of 82 million.

The Egyptian foreign ministry has requested voters abroad have a two-week period to cast their ballot and counting take place over a week. The committee said it was considering this request.

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