Egypt makes first step towards succession of Mubarak
CAIRO - Egypt's presidential race kicked off on Saturday, with registration open for candidates to run the country after a popular uprising ousted veteran president Hosni Mubarak last year.
Hopefuls must be endorsed by at least 30 members of parliament or 30,000 eligible voters for the landmark election on May 23.
The poll comes during a turbulent transitional period during which the military, lionised for not supporting Mubarak during the uprising, has become the target of the crowds who spearheaded the revolt that overthrew him.
Parties represented in parliament, which is dominated by Islamists, can nominate one candidate.
Frontrunners in the presidential race include former Arab League chief Amr Mussa, a veteran Egyptian diplomat who was foreign minister under Mubarak, as well as Abdel Moneim Abul Fotuh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Nobel Prize laureate and ex-head of the UN atomic watchdog Mohamed ElBaradei decided to drop out of the race, complaining of a lack of democracy in Egypt.
Other candidates include Ahmad Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, as well as Salafist leader Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, Nasserite head Hamdeen Sabahi and Islamist independent figure Salim al-Awwa.
Mansur Hassan, head of a military-appointed advisory council, has also come forward as a potential candidate.
The registration process ends on April 8, after which candidates will begin campaigning.
Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party scored a crushing victory in legislative elections, has said it will announce a consensus candidate for the presidential race before the poll.