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Egypt set to hold presidential election in late March

Egyptians will head to the polls in late March in the first round of the presidential election, with current President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi widely expected to stand for election and likely to win a second four-year term amid a heavy clampdown on dissent.

National Elections Authority chief Lasheen Ibrahim told a news conference in Cairo on Monday that the first round would be held on March 26-28 and a second round would be held on April 24-26 if no candidate could secure more than 50 percent of the vote.

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

“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, Ibrahim said.

He added that the final list of candidate names would be announced and published on February 24 once any appeals by rejected candidates were settled.

Campaigning is allowed for less than a month, beginning February 24.

Egyptians living abroad can vote between March 16 and 18, he noted.

On Sunday, former premier Ahmed Shafiq, who had declared his candidacy last month, said he would not run against Sisi. Shafiq once had been seen as a main challenger to Sisi.

Shafiq, who served as the last prime minister under former dictator Hosni Mubarak, declared his intention to run while in the United Arab Emirates, where he lived in exile after his close defeat in the 2012 presidential election won by Mohamed Morsi.

Sisi, the former army chief, was elected in 2014, a year after leading the military to oust his predecessor Morsi.

Other potential candidates include Khaled Ali, a rights lawyer and 2012 presidential candidate who challenged the Sisi administration over the Red Sea islands Egypt gave to Saudi Arabia.