Egypt presidential election to be held by Nov.

/ Source: news services

Egypt's military rulers said on Wednesday that the country's first presidential elections since the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak will be held by November at the latest.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces said that presidential elections will take place one or two months after September's parliamentary contests.

The news came on the sidelines of the announcement of a new 62-article interim constitution to replace the one suspended after the fall of Mubarak's regime on Feb. 11 in a popular uprising.

Among its articles, the interim constitutions orders the new president to appoint a vice president within 60 days of the election, in contrast to Mubarak's nearly three decade rule almost entirely without one until its last days.

Another article stipulates the creation of a committee of 100 legal experts, academics, politicians and professionals to be selected by the newly elected parliament to draft a new constitution, which would then be approved by a referendum.

Despite demands by many of the youth groups behind the 18-day uprising, the new parliament will keep a 50 percent quota of seats allocated to "farmers and workers," a holdover from the country's socialist past.

The interim constitution keeps many other the elements of the old regime disputed by reformists, including Article 2, which makes Islam the state religion and Islamic law the main source of legislation.

Article 4, however, bans political parties based on religious grounds.

Incomplete revolution?
Egypt's politics have been transformed since Mubarak's ouster but the prospect of elections may put remnants of his ruling party and an established Islamist group in the driving seat for now.

Torn between the desire for stability and a full purge of the system which could extend turmoil that has cost the economy billions of dollars, many Egyptians have opted for the former.

That was what a referendum held on March 19 suggested when 77 percent of the voters backed constitutional amendments drawn up by a committee appointed by Egypt's ruling military council.

More radical reformers, including youth groups who led the uprising that erupted on Jan. 25, wanted a 'No' vote and an entirely new constitution. For them, the revolution is still incomplete.

But the mere fact Egyptians took part in a vote in which the result was not a foregone conclusion before polling stations opened is testimony to Egypt's transformation from the 30 years of Mubarak's rigged voting, police repression and corruption.

"There is no doubt there have been major developments like changes in the constitution, a new law for political parties, freedom of expression has been granted but still more needs to be done," said political scientist Mustapha al-Sayyid.

"The outcome of the revolution will appear after elections. We will see if the people behind the revolution succeeded in reaching power to do what they want, or if it is remnants of the former regime, or if Islamists take power," said Sayyid.

Youth groups and other protest movements which had drawn millions of Egyptians onto the streets, often using the Web and social media to mobilize, now have little time before the September parliamentary election to turn themselves into more formal political parties.

The Muslim Brotherhood, with a broad base despite decades of repression under Mubarak, is best placed to capitalize. Remnants of Mubarak's old party network of notables in rural areas, local council officers and business executives are also well placed.

Seeking to assuage fears, the Brotherhood has said it will not seek a parliament majority this time or run for president.

"So far, the revolution is definitely incomplete. It has only accomplished 10 percent of its demands," Sayyid Abu El Ela from the January 25 Youth Revolutionaries told Reuters.