Egypt's Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) General Secretary Hatem Bagato attends a news conference to announce the final list of candidates for the presidential elections in Cairo April 26, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
Midnight tonight is the time set by the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) as the deadline for all presidential campaigning to end, 48 hours before voting begins in Egypt's first post-January 25 Revolution presidential elections.
According to the instructions of the campaigning ban, candidates are prohibited from publicity activities that can influence the decision of voters before casting their ballots Wednesday.
However, the penality for breaking the publicity ban remains undefined as the ban draws near. Articles in the presidential electoral law dealing with such penalties only state the terms of punishment applicable to violating approved campaigning activities, as instructed by SPEC. The law does not contain articles mentioning penalties for violators of the campaigning ban period.
SPEC Secretary-General Hatem Bagato, in an earlier statement, admitted that SPEC does not have the authority to punish or disqualify a candidate if he breaks the ban on campiagning, but can only submit a complaint to the general prosecution. Bagato added that if a candidate who breaks the publicity bans wins the elections SPEC cannot refrain from announcing him the new president.
Media outlets, alongside presidential campaigns, are also subject to the publicity ban, forbidden from broadcasting any advertisement for particular presidential candidates, conducting interviews with the candidates, or announce any pre-election polls.
The first voting round in Egypt's first post-Hosni Mubarak presidential elections will be held Wednesday and Thursday 23-24 May, with a runoff round 16-17 June if no single candidate wins an outright majority.
Egypt's next president will be formally named 21 June.