Egypt to hold elections by year's end
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Egypt's ruling military council announced Wednesday a presidential election would be held by the end of the year, and said the council would cede power to a new parliament once it is elected in September.
REUTERS - An Egyptian presidential election will be held by the end of the year and the ruling military council will exercise the powers of the head of state until then, the military council said on Wednesday. Mamdouh Shaheen, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, said the military council would cede legislative powers to a new parliament once it is elected in September.
The presidential election would happen a month or two after the parliamentary vote, he told a news conference to announce a constitutional decree which will provide a legal basis for the interim administration.
The military has ruled Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak was forced from power by a mass uprising on Feb. 11. The military dissolved both upper and lower houses of parliament and suspended the constitution after it took power.
Leading candidates for the presidency, a post held by Mubarak for three decades, include Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa and former U.N. watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
The constitutional decree included amended sections of the old constitution that were approved by a referendum on March 19. The changes open the door to a competitive presidential vote and restore judicial oversight over elections. They restrict the future president to two four-year terms in office.
The military council said on Monday the parliamentary election would be held in September. An entirely new constitution will be drawn up by a legal committee formed once the new parliament is elected.
The decree announced on Wednesday will act as the interim constitution. The constitutional committee would be free to discard the decree and start from scratch, Shaheen said.
"The military council will give up legislative powers to the new parliament once it is formed and will give up the remaining presidential powers to the president once a new president takes office," Shaheen said.
The interim constitution's 62 articles included one stating that Islam is the religion of the state and that the principles of the sharia are the primary source of legislation. The decree also declares Egypt a democratic state, says peaceful protests are allowed and guarantees freedom of expression and a free press.