World Bulletin/News Desk
Egypt's independent presidential election commission on Sunday pulled down the curtain on candidacy applications, leaving the presidential race between resigned defense minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and former presidential contender Hamdeen Sabahi.
The commission, which is made up of senior judges, said only the two hopefuls had met candidacy requirements and submitted their applications on time.
Presidential hopefuls were supposed to pass medical tests and submit 25,000 written endorsements from eligible voters from at least 15 of Egypt's 27 provinces.
Election Commission Secretary-General Abdel-Aziz Salman said al-Sisi had submitted more than 188,000 endorsements while Sabahi hand over some 31,000 endorsements.
Election propaganda would start in early May and last until May 23.
The presidential elections, scheduled for May 26/27, is the second step on Egypt's transitional roadmap announced with the army's ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi on July 3 last year.
Salman said the election commission had allowed six international organizations to follow up the vote, adding that the selected organizations boast expertise in the field and can offer comprehensive, neutral reports about the elections.
He added that the commission was still reviewing applications from local organizations to observe the vote.
The election commission has earlier signed an agreement with the Election Union to send a mission to observe the vote.
The African Union and the Arab League have also been invited to send election observers.
Sisi would be the latest in a line of Egyptian rulers drawn from the military that was only briefly broken during Mursi's year in office.
The only other contender, Sabahi, heads a political alliance called the Popular Current and was a member of parliament under Mubarak. He came third in the 2012 presidential vote after Mursi and ex-air force chief Ahmed Shafik.
Sabahi told Reuters in an interview last month that he doubted Sisi would bring democracy if elected, alleging that as Mubarak's former chief of military intelligence he was responsible for human rights abuses.
Sabahi has said that the country has yet to cleanse a "rotten" system or create a new breed of politicians, and argues that Mubarak-era figures are making a comeback.
Human rights groups says authorities have stifled all forms of dissent.
Neither candidate has outlined a strategy for tackling the poverty, energy shortages and unemployment that afflict many of Egypt's 85 million people.
Last Mod: 21 Nisan 2014, 10:18