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Egypt's presidential candidates end campaigns for historic vote

(Xinhua)

09:01, May 21, 2012

CAIRO, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's presidential candidates finalized on Sunday their electoral campaigns two days before the historic vote.

All forms of electoral campaigns by the candidates during the 48-hour silence period are banned. They cannot hold any meetings or participate in rallies to promote their programs or appear in media interviews.

Former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who concluded his last trails to gain more votes, told a conference in Behirah Governance, north of Cairo that "the Egyptians are moving to cast their votes not only for choosing a person whom they can trust his nationalism, experiences and ability to lead the country, but also to determine their destiny and choose a way for democracy, freedom and dignity. "

"The choices are clear, either to put Egypt on the right path of achieving the uprising's goals, transform Egypt into a real democratic state with competitive economy, or to enter the vortex of regional and domestic disputes due to wrong concepts and methods," he added, calling on all the citizens to vote and participate in choosing a future for Egypt.

Moussa added that "I can see the future of Egypt, a strong country with Muslims and Coptics, men and women without discrimination or marginalization, a country which can eliminate poverty, and break the vicious circle of illiteracy, unemployment".

Ex-Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, a candidate from ex-President Hosni Mubarak's era, pledged to create constant security, comprehensive justice and balanced development in the middle class.

Attacking Muslim Brotherhood (MB) movement, Shafiq said, "Egypt is a moderate country with an Islamic reference which emerges from Azhar institution," criticizing the extremist movements which try to drag Egypt to the old ages.

Shafiq reiterated although the Islamists got their chance in the parliament, but it was obvious now that MB wants to control all powers and institutions.

He criticized those who call for a president on a religious base, "We are all Muslims and Christians believing in God, and the simple Egyptians don't seek a president to teach them religion but a president who can create jobs and provide food."

Shafiq played down the counter campaigns which said his candidacy will bring demonstrations to Tahrir square, considering it a weak publicity of other competitors who seek chaos in Egypt.

In intensified efforts of the last hours to gain trust of more voters, MB's political arm Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) chairman Mohamed Morsi addressed a popular assembly in Port Said, north Cairo, saying "Egyptians will choose their president with freedom and will, and no body will dare to hinder the people's will."

He affirmed the "renaissance project" which he adopts is not a dream but an applicable plan.

Meanwhile, according to the independent local polls Sunday, Ahmed Shafiq ranked the first, followed by Moussa and then Abdel- Moneim Abul Fotouh. Sabahi came in the forth place, followed by Mohamed Morsi. The first presidential vote, after the fall of ex-President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, is set to be held on Wednesday and Thursday. However, due to fierce competition, it is unlikely to produce an outright winner in the first round. A run-off will be held in mid June.

Secretary General of the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC), Hatem Bagato, said Saturday the commission has finalized all arrangements to facilitate the electoral process.

He added HPEC granted licenses to three foreign organizations and 49 local ones to observe the upcoming elections.

There are more than 50 million Egyptian voters inside the country. The commission will deploy 14,500 judges nationwide in addition to 65,000 public servants to monitor the process.

The police and the armed forces are closely coordinated to secure the voting process with strict measures to prevent cheating.

The commission has pledged the vote will be free and fair. The final results will be announced on June 21, and the military rulers will transfer power by June 30.

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