Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Egypt’s military-backed interim government could amend the political roadmap in the country by calling presidential elections before parliamentary polls.
A high-ranking Egyptian official, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the government was considering bringing forward the date of presidential elections, adding that the national dialogue meetings being conducted by interim president Adly Mansour with senior politicians and public figures to discuss the transitional roadmap were not the sole mechanism through which this could be amended.
The official confirmed that Mansour remained committed to holding both parliamentary and presidential elections within a six-month period following the referendum on the constitution, due on 14-15 January. However, the source added that the precise date of the elections, and the decision regarding which election would be held first, depended on a number of factors, including the deteriorating security situation in the country.
While the political roadmap announced by Egypt’s military following the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi stipulated that parliamentary elections would precede presidential elections, the draft constitution leaves the decision in the hands of the interim president. The constitution affirms that “procedures” for a “first election” must begin at least 30 days following the adoption of the constitution, adding that procedures for the “other election” must begin within six months, but does not explicitly stipulate that parliamentary elections should precede a presidential election.
On Sunday, Mansour met with 90 representatives of Egyptian governorates to discuss the transitional roadmap and Egypt’s forthcoming elections. The general feeling is that many Egyptians would prefer holding parliamentary elections first, particularly given the worsening security situation.
Reuters news agency quoted one Egyptian official who attended the meeting as saying: “The forces that attended the four meetings agreed, with a large percentage, to have the presidential elections first, and that means that most likely the presidential elections will be first.”
An army official added: “Presidential elections are most likely to be held first, as it seems to be the demand of most parties so far.”
For his part, Mansour has previously stated that he does not intend to stand at the presidential elections. In comments to Kuwait’s Al-Seyassah newspaper earlier this year, the Egyptian interim president said: “I will return to my office and work at the constitutional court. I became interim president of Egypt based on the provisions of the law and constitution, and I respect the provisions of the law and constitution.”
It is Egyptian army chief Gen. Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who looks most likely to benefit from early presidential elections, with many Egyptians calling on the well-respected defense minister to stand. While Sisi has refused to comment on the record on a prospective presidential bid, analysts agree that he would most likely secure a landslide victory were he to stand, with many Egyptians looking on him to stabilize the country following Mursi’s ouster.