Egypt to begin delayed polls in October

  • 31/08/2015
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (Reuters)
President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (Reuters)

Egypt is to elect its first parliament in over three years in a series of voting rounds starting on October 17, the electoral commission says.

The country has been without a legislature since June 2012, when the constitutional court struck down the results of parliamentary polls that followed the 2011 overthrow of dictator Hosni Mubarak.

That decision led to a constitutional crisis that played a key role in rising political tensions and the eventual downfall of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood had been the largest group in the parliament.

In the absence of a parliament, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief deposed Morsi in mid-2013 in the wake of mass protests, has been ruling by decree since his election last year.

The new parliament will be tasked with reviewing laws passed by decree under al-Sisi and his immediate predecessor, interim president Adly Mansour.

Some of those laws, including an effective ban on demonstrations and a recent anti-terrorism law that includes reporting restrictions, have been criticised as repressive.

The Supreme Electoral Committee said on Sunday that voting for Egyptians overseas will begin on October 17, with polling inside the country starting two days later and potentially running to December 2.

Al-Sisi has revised the electoral law to provide that 448 out of a total 568 seats will be contested in individual member constituencies.

The 120 seats contested by party lists will be distributed on a winner-takes-all basis in four constituencies across the country.

Critics say the system is likely to give an advantage to powerful local figures, and candidates and parties who have the backing of the security forces and the authorities.

During negotiations over the formation of electoral lists earlier this year, leaders of political parties complained that they were being put under pressure by the security services over their choices of candidates and electoral alliances.

The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, which came first in the 2011-2012 elections, was banned by a court last year.