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Egypt Draft Constitution Opens Way to Presidential Poll First


Amr Moussa (L), head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution, speaks with El-Sayed El-Badawi (R), the head of the Wafd party, before a vote at the Shura Council in Cairo, Dec. 1, 2013.

Amr Moussa (L), head of the assembly writing Egypt's new constitution, speaks with El-Sayed El-Badawi (R), the head of the Wafd party, before a vote at the Shura Council in Cairo, Dec. 1, 2013.

A draft Egyptian constitution completed on Sunday opens the way for a presidential election to be held before parliamentary polls, potentially changing the transition plan outlined by the army when it ousted President Mohamed Morsi.

The original plan said a parliamentary election should take place before the presidential one. But the draft constitution avoids stipulating which vote should happen first.

The draft constitution also says the elections must take place no later than six months from the day of its ratification.

The change was announced by former Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, chairman of the 50-member constituent assembly, as it completed its final draft on Sunday. The draft must now be put to a referendum this month or next.

The change leaves it up to interim President Adly Mansour, to decide which election comes first, or whether to hold both at the same time. Mansour was installed as head of state after Morsi's ouster. Critics say he is just a front for army rule.

The change follows several weeks of debate in the constituent assembly fuelled by concern that weak secular parties are not ready for parliamentary elections.

Seeing army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sissi as the frontrunner for president, some assembly members want the presidential election held before legislative polls or even at the same time so that a strong presidential candidate can forge an electoral alliance for the parliamentary race.

Sissi led the July 3 overthrow of Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected head of state, after mass protests against the Islamist leader's rule, and is widely seen as the lead candidate for the presidency. But he has kept Egypt guessing about his intentions.

Moussa said the draft constitution will be handed to Mansour on Tuesday.

The constituent assembly also adjusted the provision that outlines the voting rules for the parliamentary election. It now leaves it up to Mansour to decide exactly how they will be held.
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