Campaigning for Egypt's presidential election officially began today, with Islamists and liberal secularists expected to dominate the hustings.

Official campaigning will last until 21 May, 48 hours before polls open for the first round of voting, on 23 and 24 May.

A second round of the election to choose a successor to former president Hosni Mubarak is expected to take place on 16 and 17 June.

Egypt's ruling military has promised that the vote will be free and has pledged to hand power to the winner by the end of June.

The military took charge after Mubarak was ousted in a popular uprising in February last year.

The electoral committee last week announced the final list of 13 candidates for the vote, which should mark Egypt's first fair presidential elections after three decades of autocratic rule under Mubarak.

That announcement followed a tumultuous run-up that saw three leading candidates disqualified.

Ahmed Shafiq, the premier appointed by Hosni Mubarak just before his overthrow, was allowed to stand after the committee reversed an earlier decision to exclude him.

Other candidates include front runners Amr Mussa, a former foreign minister and Arab League chief, and the powerful Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi, who filled in for the group's disqualified first pick, Khairat El-Shater.

The contest is narrowing down to a choice between secularists linked to the old guard - such as Mussa and Shafiq - and Islamists who hope to repeat their success in parliamentary elections after Mubarak's ouster.