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Egypt closes presidential nominee period with two contenders

The nomination period for candidates in Egypt's upcoming presidential election has closed. Just two candidates have thrown their hats into the ring.

As the window for submitting nominations in Egypt's presidential race came to a close on Sunday, election officials confirmed that just two men had submitted their names to be considered as candidates.

The election committee said in a news conference that

Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the country's former army chief

, and

former parliamentarian Hamdeen Sabahi

(pictured on the poster above) were the only two to have submitted the necessary paperwork to be eligible candidates on the ballot, which is scheduled for May 26-27. Each man was required to submit at least 25,000 signatures endorsing his candidacy to election officials.

Sissi, who recently stepped down as the country's military leader to pursue the presidency, is seen as the front-runner.

He deposed

Egypt's freely elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July.

Morsi was victorious in elections in 2012, a race that saw Sabahi finish third. Observers believe Sabahi stands little chance against Sissi.

Sissi's supporters regard him as someone capable of bringing stability to a country that has been in turmoil since longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak stepped down in the face of mass protests against his rule in 2011. The former army chief's critics, though, cite a

crackdown on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood supporters

as evidence that a Sissi election win would mark a return to the autocratic style of government experienced under Mubarak.

Despite only having two submissions for candidates, the election committee in Egypt won't make the list of nominees final until May 2, when campaigning officially begins.

mz/kms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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