CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s interim president announced Sunday that the country will have presidential elections before parliamentary polls, promising that a rise in “dark terrorism” won’t derail a transition to democracy following a July 3 popularly backed military coup.
According to Egypt’s newly adopted constitution, those elections are to be held before the end of April, with the parliamentary polls held before end of July.
In a brief televised speech, Interim President Adly Mansour said he will ask the election commission to open the door for presidential candidates to register as stipulated in the constitution.
The announcement, an amendment to the military-backed road map adopted after the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, was expected. Many think that the army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi will run for president. Ecstatic crowds gathered across the country Saturday in government-sponsored rallies marking the third anniversary of the start of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, with many openly calling for el-Sissi to run.
The general has not yet made a formal announcement. He would have to quit his post as defense minister before launching a campaign.
But Egypt remains divided, as seen by the widespread clashes that struck across the country Saturday as well. Egyptian officials said Sunday that the death toll from the clashes was now 49. Three soldiers also were killed in an attack Sunday in the lawless Sinai Peninsula, the state news agency reported.
The July 3 coup toppled Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood-backed government. A Brotherhood-led coalition has held near-daily protests since his ouster, demanding Morsi be reinstated. The protests have often devolved into violence.
The continued protests, coupled with a rise in terrorist attacks, continued to challenge authorities. Mansour said Sunday that the rise in terrorist attacks against police and military will not derail the country’s transition to democracy.
“These terrorist attacks aim to break the will of Egyptians,” he said. “I tell those terrorists your despicable acts will not realize their goals.”
He vowed that the government will fight the violence “relentlessly” and “mercilessly.”
Mansour also said he appealed to the prosecutors to review the cases of detainees held without charges from protests, including university students, to ensure that those held for no reasons are released. Thousands are believed to be locked up following an intense government crackdown on dissent.