Egypt sets election dates, after three years without parliament
For the first time in three years, Egyptians will go to the polls in parliamentary elections.
Egypt's legislative elections, the first since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took office, are to be contested in phases starting 17 October, the electoral commission announced on Sunday.
Analysts say the polls, with Sisi loyalists heavily favoured to emerge the big winners, will serve to appease Egypt's backers in the West who see the president as a rampart against jihadist violence despite concerns over repression that has eliminated any meaningful opposition.
A new parliament will be in place "by the end of the year", according to Ayman Abbas, head of the electoral commission.
The polls had initially been scheduled for early 2014 but were repeatedly delayed on legal grounds amid charges from rights groups of repressive measures during a crackdown on the Islamist opposition.
|The 17 October to 2 December elections will be contested more than two years after the military under Sisi.|
The 17 October to 2 December elections will be contested more than two years after the military under Sisi, who was then army chief and won a presidential election last year, toppled Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, whose now-banned Muslim Brotherhood had swept Egypt's last legislative vote in late 2011.
The constitutional court ruled in March that part of the electoral law was unconstitutional, prompting the latest delay before the electoral commission began work on setting the new dates.
The same court had dissolved the previous Islamist-dominated parliament, which was elected after the 2011 uprising that forced longtime dictator Hosni Mubarak from power.
It ruled that parts of the law under which parliament was elected were unconstitutional. That decision granted broad legislative powers to the presidency in the absence of an assembly.
Lawyers who appealed against the electoral law argued that it did not divide districts in a way that would adequately represent voters.
Critics say that with the Brotherhood having been crushed and banned, the elections are bound to be dominated by Sisi loyalists.
The elections are important to Sisi as he seeks to shore up his standing in the eyes of Western governments that condemned his overthrow of Morsi - Egypt's first freely elected leader.
Even secular and liberal activists, including several who played a prominent role in the 2011 revolt, have been jailed for holding unauthorised protests.
In a complex electoral system for the 568-member parliament, a sector of the electorate living abroad will vote on 17 October, followed on the next two days by voters in 14 of the country's 27 provinces.
Runoffs in the same constituencies will be held on 26, 27 and 28 October.
Remaining voters abroad and inside the Arab world's most populous country will take part in a first round on 21, 22 and 23 November, followed by runoffs on 30 November and 1 and 2 December.