Egypt: Voters head to polls again in parliament vote | Reuters

Egyptians vote Tuesday in the third round of a parliamentary election that has so far handed Islamists the biggest share of seats in an assembly that will be central in the transition from army rule. Islamist groups came late to the uprising that unseated president Hosni Mubarak in February, but were well placed to seize the moment when Egyptians were handed the first chance in six decades to choose their representatives freely.

The run-up to the third round has been overshadowed by the deaths of 17 people last month in clashes between the army and protesters demanding the military step aside immediately. But the ruling generals have insisted the election process will not be derailed by violence. Monitors mostly praised the first two rounds as free of the ballot stuffing, thuggery and vote rigging that once guaranteed landslide wins for Mubarak’s party.

But police raids on pro-democracy and rights groups last week have disrupted the work of leading Western-backed election monitors and drew accusations that the army was deliberately trying to weaken oversight of the vote and silence critics.

Egypt: Army hastens end of parliamentary election | Reuters

Egypt’s army rulers issued a decree on Sunday to hasten the conclusion of parliamentary elections after deadly clashes in Cairo last month raised pressure for a quicker handover to civilian control. Final run-offs to the assembly’s upper house will end on February 22 instead of March 12 as previously planned, the ruling military council said in a statement, and the house will hold its first sitting on February 28.

Fifty-nine people were killed in confrontations in late November and December between security forces and protesters demanding the military leave power sooner. Many Egyptians voiced outrage at video footage of soldiers beating men and women after they had already collapsed on the ground, some dragging a female protester by her black full-body veil, exposing her bra then clubbing and kicking her.

Egypt: Egyptians turn out in fresh poll round | The Australian

Egyptians trickled into polling stations in the run-off of a staggered election marred by clashes between protesters and security forces that have left 15 people dead in five days. Polling took place in a third of the country’s 27 provinces, with a visibly lower turnout than in previous rounds, AFP reporters said.

The run-off in the second phase of legislative polls, taking place over two days, will see the two largest Islamist parties go head to head for 59 seats in the lower house. The ruling military has decided on a complex election system in which voters cast ballots for party lists, which will comprise two-thirds of parliament, and also for individual candidates for the remaining third of the lower house.

Egypt: Accusations of ballot abuse flare up as Egyptians vote in 2nd round of parliamentary elections | The Washington Post

Islamists and liberals accused election officials Thursday of filling out ballot forms for elderly or confused voters at some polling stations during the second round of parliamentary elections. If confirmed as a pattern, the reports could chip away at the credibility of what has so far been the freest and fairest vote in Egypt’s modern history.

Under Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime, elections were systemically rigged and the corruption was a major impetus behind the popular uprising that ousted the authoritarian leader in February. But as the polls closed, it was still unclear how widespread the problems were.

Egypt: Islamists claim most seats in run-off vote | Reuters

The Muslim Brotherhood said on Wednesday it had won most seats in an opening round of run-offs in Egypt’s staggered parliamentary vote, consolidating its lead over rival liberals and hardline Salafi Islamists.

The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which has promised to work with a broad coalition in the new assembly, secured 34 individual seats out of the 45 it contested in the run-offs on Monday and Tuesday, a party source told Reuters. Official results are not expected until Thursday.

A total 56 individual seats were up for grabs in the first round of the election, with others assigned to party lists. Two more rounds follow, with the last run-off set for mid-January. Salafis were the surprise runners-up in the opening stage of the ballot but the Islamist rivals are playing up their differences, giving liberals scope to take part in a post-election government and shape the future constitution.

Egypt: Islamists seek to extend gains in Egypt run-off vote | Reuters

Egyptians voted on Monday in run-off contests for parliamentary seats, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s party trying to extend its lead over hardline Islamists and liberal parties in a political landscape redrawn by the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak. The Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) is set to take the most seats in Egypt’s first free election in six decades, bolstering its hand in any struggle with the ruling army council for influence over the most populous Arab nation.

The Brotherhood, banned from politics until an uprising ended Mubarak’s 30-year rule on Feb. 11, said after the first-round vote that everyone should “accept the will of the people”. Its stiffest competition has come from the ultra-conservative Salafi al-Nour Party. Alexandria, Egypt’s second city, was expected to see some of the tightest races between the two parties in the run-off votes for individual candidates.

Egypt: Election turnout 62 percent, protesters honour dead | Reuters

More than eight million Egyptians voted in the opening round of their first free vote in six decades in what the election chief said Friday was a turnout of 62 percent, far higher than in the rigged polls of deposed President Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood’s party and its ultra-conservative Salafi rivals looked set to top the polls, to the alarm of many at home and abroad. Moderate Islamists have won elections in Tunisia and Morocco in the past two months.

The emergence of ambitious Salafi parties is one of the starkest measures of change in post-Mubarak Egypt. The world is watching the election for pointers to the future in Egypt, the most populous Arab nation and one hitherto seen as a firm U.S. ally committed to preserving its peace treaty with Israel and fighting Islamist militancy.

Egypt: Protesters, Forces Clash for Third Day Before Election | Businessweek

Clashes erupted in Cairo for a third day after fighting between security forces and demonstrators protesting military rule left at least 22 people dead, a week before Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the ouster of Hosni Mubarak.

Protesters were driven back by tear gas in Tahrir Square, the center of the uprising that toppled Mubarak in February, some waving Egyptian flags and others hurling stones at riot police, in scenes televised from the site. Besides those killed, hundreds were injured in the fighting that started on Nov. 19, Health Ministry spokesman Mohammed el-Sherbeeny said today by telephone.

Egypt: A guide to Egypt’s first post-revolution elections | IRIN Middle East

Millions of Egyptians will head to the polls on 28 November in the first parliamentary vote after a popular uprising ended Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule. The elections end decades of what was effectively one-party rule and will establish a parliament to lead the drafting of a new constitution within a year. If approved in a subsequent referendum, this constitution will shape Egypt’s future.

But few Egyptians understand the complex election system or know what the parties represent. “The election system is really confusing,” Saed Abdel Hafez, chairman of the local NGO, Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue, told IRIN. “Because people do not understand the system, they will most likely vote for the people or the powers they used to vote for in the past. This means that the next parliament will not reflect the new political realities created by the revolution.”

Egypt: Those who cannot vote | Al Jazeera

As Egypt prepares to begin what activists hope will be a new era in democracy – which promises to be as confusing as it is monumental – the first democratic elections in a country with more than 6,000 years of history are starting this month. There has been a flurry of stories on issues facing candidates – charges of discrimination against female candidates, the questionable efficacy of a ban on preventing those with ties to deposed President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party from running etc. But little is known about a list of names, a list that some say is nearly 30,000 names long, identifying people who have been prohibited from voting due to past criminal convictions.

Disenfranchising former convicts is stipulated by Egyptian law – and many other countries have similar regulations when it comes to who can and cannot vote. And In a nation of more than 80 million, disenfranchising a few thousand might not seem like a big deal. However, voters’ rights advocates take issue with two elements with the mechanism by which tens of thousands of criminal record holders are prohibited from voting in the upcoming parliamentary elections: The lack of transparency and the fact that the process relies on a database which seems to have no way of exempting former political prisoners from the list of banned voters.

Canada: Canada urges Egypt to allow international monitors for elections | The Vancouver Sun

Canada is pressing Egypt’s interim rulers to overturn a ban on international monitors as the North African country prepares for parliamentary elections next month that will set the tone for democracy there and in the region. Egyptians will begin going to the polls on Nov. 28 to elect their first Parliament since a wave of protests ousted former president Hosni Mubarak in February.

The elections will be held in three stages lasting until March, with the winners coming together to draft the country’s first post-Mubarak constitution. A presidential election is expected in late 2012 or early 2013. A senior Foreign Affairs official told Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee on Tuesday the three-month parliamentary elections represent a critical period in Egypt’s transition to democracy and, “like the rest of the world, Canada is watching closely.

Egypt: Fears of Mubarak allies as Egypt prepares elections | Reuters

Candidates registering on Wednesday for Egypt’s first parliamentary elections since the overthrown of the autocratic Hosni Mubarak said they feared Mubarak loyalists would sneak their way onto the candidate lists. Essam Said, registering as a candidate in Giza west of Cairo Wednesday, said veterans of Mubarak’s now disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) would get themselves included on party lists because running as independents would make them easier to identify.

“The NDP people are hiding themselves inside the party lists,” he said, adding that he knew one former NDP legislator who planned to stand as a candidate for the liberal Wafd party. Under election rules set after Mubarak’s overthrow, two thirds of the lower house will be elected via the party lists covering entire regions, the rest as individuals in smaller constituencies. The rules are designed to stop old Mubarak loyalists, many of them wealthy notables with enduring local influence, returning to formal politics.

Egypt: Egypt’s presidential hopefuls want early vote | Reuters

A group of six presidential hopefuls said on Wednesday they wanted Egypt’s first free election to be held in April, far earlier than the timetable envisaged by the ruling military council. Egypt’s generals have not set a date but, under a timetable that involves a parliamentary vote followed by drawing up a new constitution, analysts said the presidential race may not happen until the end of 2012 or early 2013.

Many Egyptians suspect that the military council, which took control after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office, may want to hold on to power from behind the scenes even after handing over day-to-day affairs to the government. The military denies any such intentions. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Wednesday also dismissed talk that the military might propose a candidate for the presidency.

“Don’t let this drag on, so that we don’t lose all hope,” Hazim Salah Abou Ismail, one of the six hopefuls, told a news conference, where representatives of the group announced their demands.

Egypt: Egypt to start parliamentary vote on November 21: Al-Ahram | Reuters

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.

Egypt: Parties want Mubarak allies barred from vote | Reuters

Political parties have called on Egypt’s military rulers to ensure that figures associated with the government of ousted President Hosni Mubarak cannot run in parliamentary elections expected this year.

The military council that took over from Mubarak after street protests forced him to stand down in February has said it will hold a parliamentary vote this year, although a statement earlier this week announcing plans for voter registration did not mention any dates.

“The members of the coalition insist on changes to the parliamentary elections law and a law that would prevent the return of remnants of the former regime,” a coalition of 17 groups, including the leading Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group, said in a statement late on Tuesday.