General view of a news conference announcing Egypt's elections timetable in Cairo, Egypt January 8, 2018 Reuters
Egypt’s National Elections Authority (NEA) announced on Monday that voting in the upcoming 2018 presidential elections will begin in March.
In an official announcement during a Cairo press conference, NEA head Lasheen Ibrahim announced the timetable for the highly anticipated elections, with proceedings to take place between late January and 1 May, when the NEA will announce the winner and new president of Egypt.
The NEA is set to receive requests for nominations from 20 January till 29 January in its headquarters on downtown Cairo’s Qasr El-Einy Street.
During the first week of February, the authority will disqualify some of the candidates, announcing the reasons for doing so on 6 February. It will also accept official complaints on 7 February and rule on them on 9 February.
The official list of candidates is set to be announced on 23 February, 2018.
Voting by Egyptian expats is set to begin on16, 17 and 18 March, with an electoral silence due on 14 and 15 March.
Elections nationwide are set to start on 26, 27 and 28 March, with electoral silence set for 24 and 25 March.
In the case of no run-offs, the winner of the elections will be announced on 2 April, 2018.
However, in the case of a run off, a second round of voting will be held on April 19, 20, and 21 for expats abroad and on 24, 25, and 26 April for voters within Egypt. In the case of a run-off, the winner will be announced on May 1.
The upcoming presidential elections are Egypt's third since the January 25 uprising. The latest were held in 2014, resulting in Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi assuming office that June after he secured 96 percent of the vote over his sole competitor, leftist politician and leader of the Egyptian Popular Current, Hamdeen Sabahi.
President El-Sisi has not yet announced if he intends to run for re-election, though others have announced their candidacies, including prominent human rights lawyer Khaled Ali in November 2017.
However, Ali is currently awaiting a final verdict for a previous sentencing of three months in prison for offending public decency after making an "obscene hand gesture" during a demonstration outside the State Council headquarters in January 2017.
The final decision is set to be handed down on 7 March.
If Ali's conviction is upheld, he will be ineligible to run in the 2018 elections according to Egypt's Presidential Elections Law.
In November, former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq also announced his intention to return from the United Arab Emirates, where he had resided since 2012, in order to run in the 2018 Egyptian elections.
Shortly following his return to Egypt in early December, the 76-year-old former air force general stated that he would make a decision whether he should run for president after assessing the situation on the ground.
In a surprise move, Shafiq announced on Sunday that he would not run, stating that he "would not be the best person to lead state affairs in the coming period."
The 2018 elections are the first to be supervised by the recently-established NEA, an independent authority with the sole responsibility of supervising general elections and referendums in Egypt.