01/27/2014, 00.00
EGYPT
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With al-Sisi seemingly ready to run, Egypt's presidential elections set for April

Interim President Adly Mansour made the announcement yesterday. Presidential decree changes the election schedule decided by political parties after the fall of Mohammed Morsi, whereby parliamentary elections would come before the presidential poll. For critics, the move favours General al-Sisi and a government loyal to him.

Cairo (AsiaNews) - Egypt will have a new president by April. Interim President Adly Mansour made the announcement last night after signing a decree that anticipates the presidential poll over parliamentary elections.

For the first time, the people will first elect the president, and then their parliamentary representatives. Elections will be held by mid-April, within 90 days of the adoption of the new Constitution on 18 January.

Last night, in a speech to the nation, President Mansour explained that the decree was discussed by the country's political forces who by a "large majority" accepted the change to boost security.

However, many analysts and political leaders have criticised the president's decision, which further strengthens General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's hold on power.

The current defence minister, who was promoted from colonel general to field marshal, is considered the country's real leader.

In recent weeks, he mentioned that he might run for the presidency following this month's successful constitutional referendum. The new army-backed constitution won 98 per cent of the vote.

"It was an expected move amid the growing signs that Gen al-Sisi is being groomed to become the next president," said Khaled Dawoud, a human rights activist.

According to the timetable drawn up by the army after the fall of former President Mohammed Morsi, parliamentary elections were supposed to be held right after the referendum.

Article 230 of the new Constitution (concerning elected offices) changes all this, favouring the establishment.

Originally, parliamentary elections were set to go before presidential elections.

However, the decision to change the electoral schedule is likely to increase tensions in Egypt, at a time when political violence is already rising.

In fact, 49 people have been killed in recent demonstrations organised to mark the third anniversary of the Arab Spring.

Fifteen more people were killed in attacks in central Cairo on Friday.

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