Middle East

Egypt to hold parliamentary elections starting in March

Egypt parliament (file) Image copyright AP
Image caption Egypt has been without its main chamber of parliament since 2012

Egypt is to hold parliamentary elections in two phases starting on 22-23 March, its election commission says.

The polls are the final step of the transitional political roadmap outlined by the military in July 2013 after it overthrew President Mohammed Morsi.

Parties and candidates loyal to his successor, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, are expected to dominate.

Egypt has been without its main chamber of parliament since 2012, when a court dissolved the House of Representatives.

Its powers were transferred to the consultative Shura Council pending fresh elections, but Mr Morsi was ousted before they could be held.

The Shura Council was then dissolved by the interim authorities before a new constitution approved last January did away with it altogether. Since then, the president has held all legislative powers.

On Thursday, the Higher Election Commission said the first phase of the polls for the House of Representatives would take place on 22-23 March and the second phase on 26-27 April.

Crackdown on Brotherhood

The announcement comes after President Sisi approved a constituencies law last month creating 567 parliamentary seats, 420 of which will be contested by individual candidates, 120 allocated according to party lists and 27 assigned by the president.

Mr Sisi and the government say the elections will show their commitment to democracy, and hope they will help bring political and economic stability after years of turmoil that began with the 2011 uprising that forced President Hosni Mubarak from power.

The dissolved House of Representatives was dominated by supporters of Mr Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood, but since his overthrow the military has launched a crackdown on the Islamist movement that has left more than 1,500 people dead and more than 16,000 in detention.

The Brotherhood has been designated a terrorist organisation and its political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), was dissolved by a court in August, preventing its participation in the upcoming elections.

Morsi supporters could run either as individual candidates or form a new political party. But correspondents say the latter is highly unlikely.

Secular and liberal activists have also been detained and prosecuted in the past year on charges of violating a law that restricts protests.

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