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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 August 2005, 21:47 GMT 22:47 UK
Egypt election campaigning begins
Hosni Mubarak at his campaign rally
President Mubarak was greeted with cheers from his supporters
Campaigning for Egypt's first multi-candidate presidential election has got under way.

Ten parties are set to take part in the election, scheduled for 7 September.

At his campaign launch, incumbent President Hosni Mubarak - who is widely tipped to win a fifth term in office - vowed the poll would be free and fair.

Some of the main opposition parties are boycotting the vote, saying dominance of Mr Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP) will help him retain power.

President Mubarak was greeted to enthusiastic, almost hysterical, applause when he gave his first speech of the campaign at the Al-Azhar Park in Cairo.

He promised to create four million job opportunities over the next four years as well as greater political reform.

"I will work hard to earn the support and the confidence of every one of you," said the 77-year-old, wearing a dark jacket without a tie.

It was an unprecedented event - the first time in his 24 years of governing Egypt that he has had to appeal for people to vote for him, says the BBC's Bethany Bell in Cairo.

His two most prominent challengers are Numan Gumaa of the Wafd Party and Ayman Nour of the al-Ghad (Tomorrow) Party.

But neither is seen as a serious threat to Mr Mubarak, says our correspondent.

Constitutional amendment

Mr Nour, a 41-year-old lawyer, promised to establish a parliamentary democracy in a speech to supporters in his Cairo stronghold of Bab al-Sharia.

"We have to stop the negative trend of the past decades and for this, Ghad is the solution," he told the rally.

Mr Nour currently faces charges of forging documents, allegations he says are politically motivated.

Mr Gumaa, a 71-year-old academic, did not appear at the Wafd Party's media event, Reuters news agency reported.

Seven other minor parties are also running in the election.

But the Muslim Brotherhood, believed to be Egypt's most popular opposition movement, is banned.

A constitutional amendment approved in a referendum in May this year opened the way for multi-candidate presidential elections.

Previously, Egyptians have only been able to approve or reject a candidate appointed by parliament, which is dominated by the NDP.

Those opposing the election say the reform does not go far enough, as the regulations severely restrict independent candidates and overwhelmingly favour the NDP.

Why Egypt's opposition doubts the elections will be free or fair

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