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Egypt elections to be held by November

CAIRO -- Egypt's military rulers said yesterday that the first presidential elections since the ouster of longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak will be held by November, giving emerging political groups up to eight months to organize.

The announcement comes 10 days after Egyptian voters overwhelmingly approved a reform package of constitutional amendments, but many critics fear the rapid timetable for elections would give a significant advantage to the most organized political forces in the country, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the former ruling party -- rather then the newly emerging forces, especially among the youth, involved in the uprising.

The news came as the military announced a 62-article interim constitution to replace the one suspended after the fall of Mubarak's regime on Feb. 11. By giving a timetable for parliament and presidential elections, the army backed up its earlier commitment to swiftly transfer power to a civilian authority.

The presidential elections will be a held a month or two after September's parliamentary contests, the military said.

Many presidential hopefuls have already announced their plans to contest elections, including Nobel Prize laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, Arab League chief Amr Moussa, and longtime left-wing opposition politician Hamdeen Sabahi. The Muslim Brotherhood, the country's most organized group, said it will not nominate a candidate in the presidential elections.

The interim constitution 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.

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