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.

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

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