Cairo - Egypt's parliamentary elections will be held in four
rounds, with the first to start on April 27, according to a decree issued on Thursday
night by President Mohammed Morsi.
The first stage will be held for two days in five of the
country's 27 provinces, including Cairo.
The fourth and final round will be held on June 19-20, with
a possible run-off vote due on June 26-27.
The decree said the maiden session of the new legislature,
to be called the Council of Deputies, would be held on July 6.
"The elections will be held in phases to ensure they
are fully supervised by the judges in line with the constitution," Bakinam
al-Sharqawi, an aide to Morsi, told state television.
Egypt has been without a lower house of parliament since a
ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court in June last year voided the chamber
after deeming the electoral rules unconstitutional.
The Shura Council, the upper house of parliament,
temporarily holds legislative authority until the legislature is elected.
The Council Thursday approved a revised electoral law, three
days after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that five articles in the
law, drafted by the Islamist-led chamber, were unconstitutional.
The revisions bring the law into line with the court's
remarks and raises to 546 the number of seats in the legislature in order to
help ensure fair representation of electoral districts across the country,
reported state media. The previous legislature was made up of 498 elected
The new seats mostly go to greater Cairo and Alexandria.
Opponents of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood had charged that the initial
districting favoured rural areas, especially in poorer southern Egypt, which
are dominated by Islamists.
But there were warnings that by sending the revised law
straight to the president and not back to the Constitutional Court the Shura
Council risked a ruling against the next parliament similar to the one that
struck down the previous assembly.
Cairo University politics professor Hassan Nafaa, writing in
independent newspaper al-Masry al-Youm's Friday edition, which hit the news
stands before Morsi signed off on the law, said that unless the court was given
another opportunity to review the revised draft it could be struck down at a
Shura Council speaker Ahmed Fahmy said that the Council had
complied with all the court's rulings, but during the session government
representatives objected to the Council's interpretation of the court's
decision on candidates who had been exempted from military service.
The mostly secular opposition has threatened to boycott the
polls unless the Islamist-backed government is replaced with a
"neutral" government and the elections are wholly overseen by the
judiciary and monitored by non-governmental organisations.