The presidential election race in Egypt began Saturday (March 10th) with the start of the process to select nominees to succeed to former President Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted by the January 25 revolution last year.
The Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) began handing out registration forms on March 10th, with the deadline for receiving applications expiring on April 8th.
HPEC head Farouq Sultan said Saturday (March 10th) that 158 people asked for registration forms on the first day of registration.
The Supreme Judicial Commission said in a statement on Sunday night that it has issued a set of controls to facilitate the endorsement process of candidates by citizens.
Egypt's presidential electoral law, issued last year after the revolution, sets a number of requirements for candidacy. A candidate must have 30,000 voter signatures from at least 15 provinces, the endorsement of 30 parliament members, or a nomination from a political party that won at least one seat in parliamentary elections, to be considered.
"The number of candidates is considerably large, and that is normal at this stage," author and journalist Salah Issa told Al-Shorfa. "Most of the candidates did not specify how they obtained the endorsements that enabled them to complete their application for presidential candidacy, except for known [political] figures, who have a large number of supporters."
Among the most prominent candidates for the presidential elections are former Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Moussa, former Civil Aviation Minister Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shafik, Salafist leader Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Dr. Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, Islamic thinker Dr. Muhammad Salim Al-Awa, human rights activist Khaled Ali, attorney Murtaza Mansour, and former Information Minister Hassan Hamdi.
Human rights activist Buthaina Kamel also obtained registration papers. Kamal would be the first woman to run for president since Egypt converted to a presidential system of government in 1952.
Meanwhile, a number of citizens also obtained nomination papers, including former intelligence officials, government officials, merchants, technicians, workers, and recent Egyptian graduates.
"Citizens are aware that Egypt faces security, economic, and administrative problems, and the new president, whoever he is or whichever party he belongs to, must contribute to advancing Egypt forward," activist George Isaac told Al-Shorfa.
Isaac said he was confident in the ability of the Egyptian people to choose their representatives.
"The revolution wants the new president to be for all Egyptians, fair, educated, accomplished in international relations, and with administrative experience as well," he said.
Many citizens have already immersed themselves in the elections, even though the presidential campaigns have not started yet.
Mahmoud Salah, 35, a computer engineer, supports Sheikh Hazem Salah Abu Ismail. Though he has not officially volunteered for Ismail's campaign, he and his friends are preparing to print more than 300 posters and 50 large banners to hang in the streets of Bulaq al-Dakrour in support of their favourite candidate.
Salah said this election means a lot to him.
"It will determine the future of post-revolution Egypt because the presidency is the highest office in Egypt," he said.
Another young engineer, Mamdouh El Sayed, 28, supports presidential candidate Amr Moussa. He said he intends to join the Moussa campaign team and has begun forming a group with his colleagues to collect endorsements for Moussa and convince other colleagues to do the same.
He added that he plans to distribute leaflets containing Moussa's biography and reasons to vote for him to employees in companies in the neighbourhood where he works.
According to the timetable announced by the HPEC, the names of the candidates will be announced April 26th. Election campaigns begin April 30th and end May 20th, three days before the first round of the election starts on May 23rd and 24th.
The run-off round will be held June 16th and 17th and the name of the president-elect will be announced June 21st.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has ruled the country since the fall of the Mubarak regime, said it will hand over power following the announcement of presidential election results.