Egypt to vote early to defuse Christian row

Egypt brought forward the start of parliamentary elections to April 22 on Saturday to defuse a row with the Christian minority, who said the original schedule would conflict with their Easter celebrations.

This should satisfy Coptic Christians, who make up 10 percent of the population. But the rift between Egypt’s ruling Islamists and the opposition remained as deep as ever, with one leading liberal politician, Mohamed ElBaradei, saying he would boycott the polls.

The decision by Islamist President Mohamed Mursi to start the four-stage vote five days earlier than scheduled was announced by his spokesman.  Islamists, who have won every election since the 2011 overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, dismissed any suggestion that the polls would lack credibility.

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