Candidates for the Egyptian presidency will be able to register on March 10, roughly a month earlier than previously promised. Egypt's military rulers may want to accelerate the transition of power amid public protests.
Egyptian state-run media reported on Monday that presidential candidates would be able to register as of March 10. No firm date was established beforehand, but the country's military rulers had said that registration would probably start in mid-April.
The head of the ruling military council, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, held a meeting with the head of Egypt's constitutional court on Monday.
"Field Marshall Tantawi stressed the need for quick completion of these [election] procedures and their announcement," the Egyptian state news agency wrote.
Fast-tracking the election process could be a bid to appease protesters in Egypt, who have been on the streets for the past five days. Activists in Cairo on Monday again sought to reach the Interior Ministry, near the iconic Tahrir Square, but were repelled by police using tear gas. The size of the protests has waned in recent days.
No dates set
The protests followed a deadly riot at a football match on Wednesday evening, with about a dozen people thought to have died since then. Some say the military is dragging its feet arranging the transition to democracy, others say Tantawi has no intention of relinquishing power.
Egypt's military council has been in charge of the country since former President Hosni Mubarak stepped down in February amid a popular uprising. Presidential elections, one of the last steps in the planned transition, were tentatively scheduled for mid-June prior to Monday's announcement. Fresh reports appeared to indicate that this date might now be brought forward, but offered no specifics.
Judicial officials in Cairo also released details on some 43 NGO workers that Egypt's military wants to try over allegedly receiving illegal funding and financing public protests.
One of the accused is American Sam Lahood, the son of US Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood. He is currently in Egypt, the authorities have imposed a travel ban on him and four other US suspects. The government in Washington has said that military and economic aid to Egypt might be reassessed if the trials go ahead.
Two German staff members from the Cairo office of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung - an NGO tied to Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats - are also among the defendants. A trial date is yet to be set.
msh/ccp (AP, dpa, Reuters)