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Egypt military unveils parliamentary election rules

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Egypt’s ruling military council revealed that preparations for the elections for the lower and upper houses of parliament will be in September and the vote will begin at least 30 days later to allow monitors to better oversee the process.

The exact dates of the first parliamentary vote since the January 25 revolution will be announced after September 18, General Mamdouh Shaheen told a news conference in Cairo.

The vote was originally scheduled for September but it was delayed to allow political parties more time to prepare.

“The delay was in response to demands by various political forces, parties and groups established after the revolution to have more time to get organized,” General Shaheen said.

The elections will be held over three stages, with 15 days between each round and would be based on a mixed system combining a party list and single-seat system, General Shahin said.

Farmers and workers will have fifty percent of seats, and women have lost their quota advantage previously introduced by ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s government.

The army has promised the vote will be fair and transparent and will be under the supervision of judges only.

“The army’s role during the elections will be to provide security only. Only the judiciary will monitor,” General Shaheen said.

The new rules signal a return to the kind of judicial supervision used for elections in 2005, which brought the opposition Muslim Brotherhood, the best organized political force in Egypt after the dissolution of the NDP, its first seats in parliament.

Mr. Mubarak replaced the judicial supervision with a central committee rights groups said failed to prevent widespread rigging.

The Islamist group withdrew from November’s election after the first round, complaining of ballot stuffing, thuggery and bribery by Mr. Mubarak’s allies. It had fielded candidates as independents to get round a ban on religious parties.

“This is a good step. It’s a positive guarantee for judicial supervision,” said political scientist Mustapha Al Sayyid.

“Holding elections over three stages allows the judges to be present.”

The election delay was seen as a measure to placate pro-democracy activists.

Some groups had expressed concern early elections would benefit the well entrenched and highly organized Muslim Brotherhood, arguing they needed more time for themselves to get organized.

(Mustapha Ajbaili, Night Editor of Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: [email protected])