Egypt elections ‘proposed for November 21’

Election commission nominates November 21 as the date for elections to the lower house of parliament, state media says.

Egypt protest in Alexandria at police station
The election will be the country’s first since Mubarak was ousted as president seven months ago [EPA]

Egypt’s election commission has proposed November 21 as the date for elections to the lower house of parliament, state news sources have said. 

The vote for the upper house will begin on January 22, with each vote being held in three stages, Al-Ahram newspaper quoted Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of the electoral commission, as saying on Sunday.

The elections would be the country’s first vote since Honsi Mubarak was toppled as president seven months ago.

Egyptian state television said that the final date for voting would be announced on September 26 when full details of the election procedures would also be declared.

Most parties have welcomed the army’s call for elections to start in November, although a few mainly liberal groups have said they want more time.

The announcement follows a meeting held between different political party’s and members of the ruling military council on Sunday.

They discussed preparations for the elections and existing laws.  

NDP concerns

Groups across the political spectrum worry that existing rules may allow loyalists of Mubarak’s now disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) to re-emerge by letting them run under a system that splits voting between party lists and individuals.

Some also say the broad constituencies outlined under the new rules may favour those with financial resources. Many wealthy business executives in Egypt backed the NDP.

“We reject the suggested election law [as we want] to block the remnants of the NDP and prevent the use of money or tribalism,” said Mohamed Saad el-Katatni, secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party.

“We will demand that all parliament seats shall be elected through closed proportional lists,” he said, referring to a system where parties or alliances draw up a list and voters choose between the different lists rather than individuals.

Supporters of this system say it encourages voters to focus on the political programmes on offer.

Some analysts say the ruling Supreme Council for the Armed Forces may favour a diverse parliament where no single party or alliance dominates, allowing the army to continue to wield influence and protect its broad business and other interests.

“The Supreme Council believes that the current system will produce a majority that they are comfortable with and will support them,” political analyst Ammar Aly Hassan said.

The election will be the first free vote in decades after 30 years of autocratic rule by Mubarak.

The country’s ruling military council has been under pressure to fix a precise date for the election it had promised to hold when it took over after Mubarak was forced to step down in February.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party is considered the best organised political force in the country.

Source: News Agencies