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Egypt's Presidential Campaign Opens, Mubarak Early Favorite

Egypt's first contested presidential campaign opened Wednesday, with widespread predictions that incumbent President Hosni Mubarak will sweep aside opponents and win a fifth term.

Under U.S. pressure, President Mubarak, in power since 1981, introduced legislation earlier this year that allows his rivals to seek the presidency.

Mr. Mubarak will face nine challengers on September seventh, including Ayman Nour, head of the al-Ghad (Tomorrow) party and a vocal critic of the president. Mr. Nour faces criminal charges brought by the Mubarak government earlier this year, when prosecutors alleged he forged signatures needed to qualify as a candidate.

Noman Gomaa, a member of one of Egypt's oldest and largest opposition parties, Wafd, is also running. The remaining candidates lead minor political parties.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.