Countdown to Egypt's presidential election begins

The 28-day official campaign period for the presidential elections will close on Saturday (March 24th), allowing 48 hours for reflection before the polls open, Egypt's Ahram Online reported Friday.

Voting will then take place between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Monday through Wednesday, says Lasheen Ibrahim, chair of the National Electoral Commission (NEC).

"If a run-off is required, a second round of voting will be held between the 24th and 26th of April for citizens inside Egypt," said Ibrahim.

There are already signs the turnout for voting will be high, political analyst and independent MP Samir Ghattas said.

"There was a record turnout among Egyptian expats when they began voting last week. It was completely surprising to see expats standing in long lines before polling stations in Egyptian embassies and consulates worldwide," he said.

"So many people turned up to vote, embassy staff could not take any breaks," Wael Gad, Egypt’s ambassador to the UAE, said.

NEC head Ibrahim said the count would begin in the presence of representatives of the two candidates, election monitoring bodies and the media, as soon as polling stations close on Wednesday.

The vote will be supervised by 17,000 judges, and 1,558 local journalists and 680 foreign correspondents are expected to cover the ballot.

Sources say 30,000 policemen will be mobilised to safeguard polling stations.

Maj. Gen. Mahmoud Tawfik told Al-Ahram on Saturday that "Central Security Forces across the country will be on alert to help defuse any attempts to disrupt the poll."

Ibrahim says the results of the vote will be announced "on April 2nd at the latest".

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