Briefly: Islamist candidate reassures women, Coptic Christians

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CAIRO — The presidential candidate for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday sought to expand his support base ahead of a tight runoff against an ex-regime figure next month, vowing to ensure the full rights of Christians and women if he is elected.

Mohammed Morsi also tried to reassure the pro-democracy youth groups who drove the popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s regime 15 months ago, saying he will protect the right to stage peaceful protests and sit-ins.

Mr. Morsi claimed the top spot in the first round of Egypt’s landmark election last week, putting him in the June 16 to 17 runoff vote against Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force commander and Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister.

Both candidates are highly polarizing figures, and are scrambling to broaden their base by appealing to groups that didn’t support them in the first round.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Cairo, Mr. Morsi said he planned to appoint Christians as presidential advisers and name one as vice president “if possible,” and said he would not impose an Islamic dress code in public for women.

“Our Christian brothers, they are partners in the nation. They will have full rights that are equal to those enjoyed by Muslims,” Mr. Morsi said. “They will be represented as advisers in the presidential institution, and maybe a vice president if possible.”

Women, he said, will have full rights in jobs and education. “Women have a right to freely choose the attire that suits them,” he said.

YEMEN

11 militants, 5 soldiers killed in south

SANAA — Yemen’s army pressed an offensive on Tuesday against southern towns held by al Qaeda-linked fighters, with 11 militants and five soldiers killed in the clashes, military officials said.

Clashes around the town of Jaar, which fell to the militants more than a year ago, left eight al Qaeda fighters and two soldiers dead, they said.

Another three al Qaeda fighters and three soldiers were killed after militants ambushed an army supply column northeast of Zinjibar, the capital of Abyan province.

Yemen’s army claims it has retaken most of Zinjibar, captured in 2011 by militants taking advantage of political turmoil to extend their control over large swaths of territory in the south.

WEST BANK

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