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The New Arab

Egypt to hold presidential election in March

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is widely expected to win the first round [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 January, 2018

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Egypt's National Elections Authority chief Lasheen Ibrahim said Egyptians will head to the polls on 26-28 March in the first round of a presidential election.

Egyptians will head to the polls on between 26 and 28 March in the first round of a presidential elections, National Elections Authority chief Lasheen Ibrahim said on Monday.

A second round - if required - would be held on 24 and 26 April he told a news conference in Cairo.

Ibrahim said the commission would accept applications from presidential hopefuls between 20 and 29 January.

"The provisional list of candidates and the numbers of their supporters will be published" in state-run newspapers al-Ahram and al-Akhbar on January 31, he said.

Egyptians living abroad are scheduled to cast their votes on 16 to 18 March, and if a second round is held, they would vote again on 19-21 April, he added.

The incumbent, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is widely expected to run for re-election and win in the first round.

Sisi, a former army chief, was elected president in 2014, a year after leading the military's ouster of his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi amid mass protests against his year-long rule.

On Sunday, former Egyptian premier Ahmed Shafiq announced he will not stand in the 2018 presidential elections, reversing a pledge to challenge at polls set to be dominated by Sisi.

Shafiq's decision to scrap his candidacy came after he was deported from the UAE, where he had been living in exile since 2012, back to Egypt last month. He is believed to have been placed under house arrest since he returned.

"I have decided to not run in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections," Shafiq said in a statement posted online.

"I saw that I will not be the best person."

Shafiq, appointed premier by former President Hosni Mubarak shortly before his overthrow in 2011, was seen as a main challenger for Sisi, who is expected to cruise to a new term despite not yet officially announcing his candidacy.

The ex-prime minister announced his plans to compete for the presidency in a 29 November video from the UAE, stating that it seemed the country needed "new blood" to face its current "many problems in all aspects of life".

But after angering his Emirati hosts by claiming in a video first aired by Al Jazeera that he was being prevented from leaving the country, his aides said he was deported to Egypt on 2 December.

After arriving back in his homeland, Shafiq disappeared from view for around 24 hours, before reemerging to tell a talk show host that he was reconsidering his bid for the presidency.

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