At least 500 Egyptians have taken the first step to run for president, a sign of the excitement generated by the country’s first presidential elections in which the outcome is in doubt, election officials said on Mar 13. They said the 500 have obtained applications to officially declare their candidacy for the vote, which follows last year’s ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak. Besides known presidential hopefuls who have been seriously campaigning, the applicants included a wide range of obscure Egyptians in different professions like journalists, judges, lawyers and school teachers, they said.
The election is scheduled for May 23-24. Independent applicants must secure the endorsement of 30 lawmakers or 30,000 people in at least 15 of Egypt’s 18 provinces in order to run. Applicants from political parties with at least one member in parliament are exempt from these endorsements. The office of the president in Egypt has powers far exceeding any other branch of government, with Mubarak, for example, running the country with unquestioned authority for 29 years until his ouster by a popular uprising 13 months ago.