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Historic Egyptian Campaign Kicks Off

17 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Egypt's first competitive presidential campaign starts today, in preparation for polls on 7 September.

Under international pressure, President Hosni Mubarak is for the first time in his 24-year rule allowing rivals to challenge his leadership.

But many parties have complained that the conditions in which the poll will take place and restrictions imposed on candidates wishing to challenge Mubarak will not allow for a free and fair election.

Two major opposition groups -- the Marxist Tagammu and the Nasserist Party -- have called for a boycott of the vote, while the banned but tolerated Muslim Brotherhood, which remains Egypt's main opposition force, has yet to make its position known.