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Egypt decrees protection for election commission

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 9:24 p.m.

CAIRO — Egypt's interim president on Saturday issued a much-anticipated decree governing an upcoming presidential election that clears the way for a vote expected to be won by the country's military chief.

President Adly Mansour's legal adviser Ali Awad announced on state television that the elections commission would be protected from legal challenges, a contentious position opposed by one of Egypt's top courts and criticized by potential candidates.

Awad said that Mansour made the decision after reviewing all legal opinions. He said it was important to prevent delays for both the presidential and parliamentary elections, which according to the constitution must be held no later than the second half of July.

The military chief, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, has been focusing on preparing an economic program, senior generals and government officials said.

The military, Egypt's most powerful institution, put its reputation on the line with an al-Sisi presidency when top generals publicly backed his candidacy in January. It too could be subject to a public backlash if his administration fails in a country that since 2011 has risen up against two presidents.

Two generals close to al-Sisi said the military was well aware of the difficulty in repairing an economy in need of reform even before the 2011 fall of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak and wrecked by turmoil since. The two and other government officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the candidacy.

“We love him where he is, but he has decided to jump into a fireball,” said one army general of al-Sisi, who holds the posts of defense minister, deputy prime minister and commander of the armed forces.

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