Egypt says its first presidential election since a popular uprising ousted autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak a year ago will be held on May 23 and 24.
Egyptian election commission chief Farouk Sultan said Wednesday that if no candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off election will take place on June 16 and 17.
He said the final election results will be announced on June 21. Egypt's military rulers who took over from Mr. Mubarak had promised to hand over power to a civilian leader by the end of June.
Sultan said presidential candidates will be allowed to begin campaigning April 30. He also said Egyptian expatriates will be entitled to vote.
Opposition activists who led last year's uprising have frequently criticized the ruling military council for its handling of the post-Mubarak transition. They have accused the generals of using repressive Mubarak-era tactics to crack down on protesters demanding a quicker return to civilian rule. Scores of people have been killed in anti-military protests and unrest across Egypt in the past year.
Critics of the Egyptian military council also fear it will influence the drafting of a new constitution in the coming weeks in order to keep itself above civilian oversight even after a president takes office. Egypt's recently-elected Islamist-dominated parliament is due to form a constitutional panel on March 3. It is not clear whether the panel will finish its work before the presidential election.
Likely contenders for Egypt's top job include former Arab League secretary-general Amr Moussa, former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, ultraconservative Islamist Hazem Abu-Ismail, and moderate Islamist Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh.