[QODLink]
Middle East

Egypt to hold parliamentary elections

Voting will take place in four stages with new People's Assembly invited to convene on July 6, presidential decree says.
Last Modified: 21 Feb 2013 22:34
Election comes at a time when the country is deeply divided between Morsi's supporters and secular opposition [EPA]

Egypt will hold parliamentary elections in several stages beginning April 27, according to a presidential decree.

The election process will take place in four stages: April 27-28, May 15-16 and June 2-3 and 19-20, according to the official decree released on Thursday by President Mohamed Morsi's spokesman, Yassir Ali.

The House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, will hold its first session July 6, the decree said.

Follow spotlight coverage of the struggling young democracy

The election comes at a time when Egypt is gripped by unrest, insecurity and a crippling economic crisis - the country is deeply divided between Morsi's supporters and a liberal-led opposition.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters hope the election will mark an end to a turbulent political transition punctuated by series of violence that have thwarted his efforts to revive an economy in deep crisis.

Earlier in the day the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, adopted an electoral law as amended by the Constitutional Court, clearing the way for Morsi to set a date for the lower house election.

"Parliamentary elections for 2013 will begin on April 27, over four stages," Mohamed Gadallah, a legal adviser to Morsi, said.

The vote would be held in phases in different regions because of a shortage of poll supervisors. The last lower house election lasted from late November 2011 until January the following year.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FPJ), which Morsi headed before his election, said it expected to win more seats in the next election than in the previous vote, in which is clinched about 40 percent of the vote.

Violence and insecurity

But the Brotherhood has faced hostility from a wide-ranging opposition, including conservatives, which accuse the group of monopolising power.

"The decision of the Constitutional Court is binding and we have no right to vote on it. It must be carried out"

- Ahmed Fahmy, Shura Council  speaker

Egypt has witnessed violence, insecurity and price hikes, fuelling political turmoil already plaguing the country.

Protests by Egyptians, who accuse Morsi of betraying the revolution that brought him to power, have often turned into violent and sometimes deadly clashes with police.

Morsi had been expected to ratify the electoral law by February 25. The lower house was dissolved last year after the court ruled the original law used to elect it was unfair.

The new chamber is likely to have to decide on tough economic measures that the International Monetary Fund is demanding in return for a US $4.8bn loan which Egypt needs to tackle an economic crisis.

On Monday, the Constitutional Court demanded changes to five articles of the revised electoral law. The Shura Council accepted this ruling and adopted the legislation without a vote on Thursday.

"The decision of the Constitutional Court is binding and we have no right to vote on it. It must be carried out," said Ahmed Fahmy, the Council's speaker.

The new law bars members of parliament from changing their political affiliation once elected.

Under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, independents were often cajoled into joining the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which monopolised parliament and political life before the 2011 revolution.

The law also stipulates that one third of the lower house should be designated for independents and bans former members of the now defunct NDP from participating in politics for at least 10 years.

613

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
A former rebel's museum keeps alive memories of the July 26, 1953 veterans who launched Cuba's revolution.
A revolutionary new treatment is halving hospitalisation rates for severe asthma sufferers.
More than fifty years of an armed struggle for independence from Spain might be coming to an end in the Basque Country.
Human rights and corporate responsibility prompt a US church to divest from companies doing business with Israel.
After the shooting-down of flight MH17, relatives ask what the carrier has learned from still-missing MH370.
join our mailing list