First parliamentary elections after fall of Mubarak to begin in Egypt
Parliamentary elections will begin in Egypt on Monday, the first since the January 25 uprising which led to the fall of the Hosni Mubarak regime, RIA Novosti reported.
The country has a complex three-stage scheme of voting, which will take almost four months.
During the first stage, some 17.5 million voters from nine Egyptian provinces, including the largest cities of Cairo and Alexandria, will cast their ballot at over 3,300 polling stations on Monday. The vote there will continue for two days.
A total of 55 parties are registered to take place in the polls. The Party of Freedom and Justice, created by the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, is seen as a frontrunner. Egypt's oldest liberal Wafd also hopes for success.
The election date was put into question by violent protests in Cairo and Alexandria last week against the delay in the transition to civilian rule following February's overthrow of Mubarak. Over 40 people were killed and hundreds injured.
The chairman of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) Mohamed Hussein Tantawi announced on Tuesday that parliamentary elections would be held on November 28 and presidential elections by the end of June 2012.
Four days before the elections, Interior Minister Mansour al-Essawy sent letters to the government and SCAF members in which he doubted the advisability of holding elections amid the ongoing violence.
The polling stations will be guarded by interior and defense ministry forces for fears of possible provocations and clashes.
The elections will become the first serious step in handing over power to democratically elected authorities.
SCAF vowed the power transition will be completed in the first half of 2012, shortly after the presidential elections.
The parliament's newly elected lower house is expected to convene for its first session in late January. The upper house will be chosen in February-March 2012 and will begin its work on March 24.
One of the parliament's first steps would be to establish a commission of a hundred lawmakers and experts to draft the country's new constitution.