Egypt sets parliamentary poll dates

Polls to be held in three stages between November 28 and January 10 with first session of new house slated for March 17.

    Former leader Hosni Mubarak is on trial, accused of killing of hundreds of protesters [AFP]

    Egypt's parliamentary elections, the first since a popular uprising ousted president Hosni Mubarak in February, will start on November 28, the official MENA news agency has reported.

    "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has set November 28 as the start of the first stage of the parliamentary election, which will be held over three rounds," MENA reported on Tuesday.

    For the Majlis Al-Shaab lower house - People's Assembly - the second and third stages of elections are slated to take place on December 14 and January 3, while the first session of parliament will be held on March 17.

    People's Assembly Polls

    Nov 28 vote / Dec 5 runoff in districts: Cairo, Fayoum, Port Saeed, Domyat, Alexandria, Kifr Sheikh, Assiut, Luxor, Red Sea

    Dec 14 vote / Dec 21 runoff in districts: Giza, Beni Suef, Monofiya, Sharquiya, Ismaliya, Suez, Bahrain, Sohag, Aswan

    Jan 3 vote / Jan 10 runoff in districts: Minya, Qulybia, Gharbiya, Dahaliya, North Sinai, South Sinai, Mattrouh, Qena, Wadi Gadeed

    In the Shura upper house, elections will start on January 29, the agency quoted a military official as saying, with the first session set for March 24.

    The announcement comes after the caretaker cabinet voted on amending a contentious law under which two thirds of parliament will be elected through a proportional representation system and the rest via a simple majority.

    But only independent candidates are eligible to run for the simple majority seats.

    "It's a very complex proportional system that will be difficult to explain to the Egyptian people," Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, said.

    "But the hope is that with the plethora of parties, there will be more choice."

    More than two dozen political parties have rejected the electoral law, saying it could help return old regime figures to parliament.

    Egyptians went to the polls in March for a nationwide referendum on constitutional amendments.

    A decent turnout of more than 40 per cent and the absence of any serious instances of fraud led many to declare it Egypt's cleanest vote in living memory.

    Tension with military council

    Tuesday's eagerly awaited announcement came at a time of tension between the military council and the pro-reform protest movement over the generals' handling of the transition to democratic rule.

    The military rulers, in turn, claim some of the youth groups behind the uprising received training abroad and unauthorized foreign funding.

    The protesters and a broad spectrum of politicians say the military has not acted decisively or swiftly enough to dismantle Mubarak's legacy and bring figures of the old regime to account over corruption and other crimes.

    They also maintain that the generals rule in near total secrecy and without consulting enough on major issues.

    The last parliamentary elections under Mubarak were held in November and December last year, when the ousted leader's now-dissolved ruling party swept the vote, winning all but a handful of seats in the People's Assembly.

    The vote was widely thought to be the most fraudulent under Mubarak's 29-year rule and considered one of the causes behind an 18-day popular uprising that forced him to step down on February 11.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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