Egypt to start parliamentary vote on November 21

CAIRO Sat Sep 17, 2011 10:04pm BST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt will start parliamentary elections on November 21, Al Arabiya Television and the Al-Ahram newspaper reported on Saturday, the country's first vote since a popular uprising toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February after 30 years of autocratic rule.

Al-Ahram quoted Egypt's election commission head, Abdel Moez Ibrahim, as saying voting for the lower house, the People's Assembly, will be held in three stages starting on November 21 and ending on January 3. Voting for the upper house, the Shura Council, will begin on January 22, 2012 and finish on March 4.

Election commission officials were not immediately available to comment on the reports and an army source said the date would be announced in the coming days.

The country's ruling military council has been under popular pressure to fix a date for the election it promised when it took over after Mubarak was forced to step down.

No date has been fixed for the presidential poll, which the military council has said was to follow the parliamentary vote.

Many Egyptians had grown worried the military council was dragging its feet in starting preparations for a transition to democracy. Some feared the military council was hesitant about handing power to civilians.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which was once seen as the least critical of the military council, had joined calls for an election timetable. The Brotherhood ranks as the country's best organised political force after the dissolution of Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP).

MONITORING

Sami Enan, chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces and the second-highest member of the ruling military council, was due to meet political party heads in Cairo on Sunday to discuss preparations for the elections.

Said Eissa, head of political news at Al-Ahram, said the military council was expected to issue a decree in the last week of September inviting people to participate in the election.

Unofficial campaigning has already begun, with an array of secular and left-wing groups vying with resurgent Islamists for the political terrain opened up by the dissolution of the NDP.

The military council has said the judiciary will oversee the vote to ensure a free and fair poll. A member of the ruling council said in July the election will be held in three stages to make it easier for monitors to oversee voting.

Officials have said the vote would be split between a proportional system of party lists and geographical seats, with half of the 504 seats in the lower house assigned to each.

Voters will cast ballots for both the lower and upper houses at the same time and the elections will be held in 120 voting districts. A period of 15 days will separate one stage from the next, during which any re-run will be held.

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba, Seham Eloraby and Yasmine Saleh; Writing by Sami Aboudi; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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