Egypt: Presidential elections in May

Farouk Sultan, the head of Egypt's electoral commission, announced today that the country will hold its first presidential elections since Hosni Mubarak's fall in May, according to Reuters.

The first round of voting will begin on May 23 and continue for two days, with a run-off election being held on June 16 and 17 and the final results being announced on June 21.

The military council, which took power once Mubarak was forced to step down after mass protests, has agreed to transfer power to a civilian government, according to the BBC. The lower and upper houses of parliament are due to meet on Saturday and draft a new constitution which would pave the way for the presidential elections.

Sultan said that Egyptians living abroad will be able to cast absentee ballots between May 11 and May 17, according to AFP. He also added that there will be no international monitoring of the elections.

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Campaigning for the elections will officially begin on April 30, but Reuters noted that some candidates, including former Arab League chief Amr Moussa and ex-Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Abol Fotoh, have begun touring Egypt in search of support.

As a result of elections that began in Nov., the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood's party, called the Freedom and Justice Party, controls 59 percent of the seats in the upper house, the Shura Council, and 43 percent in the lower house, called the People's Assembly, according to the BBC.

The interim rule by the military was meant to only last six months until elections for a civilian government could be held, but it has now stretched to a year and a half, attracting fierce criticism from activists who sparked Egypt's uprising. There have been several casualties in the anti-military protests in the past year, with the military facing accusations of torture and putting civilians on trial before military tribunals, according to the Associated Press.

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