Egypt’s first democratic parliamentary elections look set to be postponed until November, amid a growing standoff between the ruling military council and protesters who believe their revolution is being betrayed.
The vote was initially scheduled to take place in September, causing concern among many nascent political parties who claim they have not had enough time to prepare since the fall of the former president Hosni Mubarak in February, which ended more than half a century of one-party rule.
Many activists argue that an early poll would only benefit those forces which already boast a strong organisational capacity – namely the Muslim Brotherhood and local remnants of Mubarak’s NDP party – and some have called for a new constitution to be written before any parliamentary ballot takes place.
This week, against a backdrop of nationwide protests against its handling of the post-Mubarak transition period, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) acknowledged for the first time that a delay in elections might be necessary.
“Procedures for a parliamentary election will begin in September, possibly the middle of the month. That will involve registration of candidates,” an army source told Reuters. “Then there will be a campaigning period … This could take the voting till after September, possibly November.”
The military’s policy shift on the issue of election scheduling came as a public occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square entered its sixth day and other protests continued to erupt across the country. On Wednesday, the Mogamma building, Egypt’s administrative nerve centre, finally reopened after having been shut for days due to the ongoing sit-in. However roads around Tahrir are still closed off and under the control of protesters, while security forces remain nowhere to be seen.