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Egypt's elections to wrap up sooner than expected

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-01-01

Army rulers in Egypt decided Sunday to bring forward the date of final run-offs for elections to the upper house, in the face of pressure to speed up the handover of power to civilian control.

AFP - Egypt's military rulers decreed on Sunday that multi-phase elections for parliament's consultative upper house, the Shura, will be held over a shorter period, effectively speeding up steps towards drafting a new constitution.

The elections, which had been due to take place in three phases between January 29 and March 11, will now be done in two steps, wrapping up on February 22, according to the decree by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi quoted by state news agency MENA.

The first phase will take place in 13 provinces, including the largest cities Cairo and Alexandria, and the second in the remaining 14.

MENA said Tantawi had decided that the Shura would meet for the first time on February 28, nearly a month earlier than previously expected.

With the final phase of elections to the lower house due to wrap up with second-round run-offs on January 17, the two houses will now be able to move more swiftly towards writing a new constitution.

Tantawi heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the military junta that took power when president Hosni Mubarak was driven from office in February by a popular revolt.

Under the framework for a transfer to civilian rule, the SCAF has said that the two chambers, once elected, should choose 100 members of a constitutional commission.

Most political parties are pressing for the constitution to be completed before presidential elections are held before the end of June.

The parliamentary elections, the first since Mubarak was ousted, began in November.

The Freedom and Justice party of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Nur, representing the even more conservative Salafist current of political Islam, won a substantial combined majority in the first two rounds of voting for the lower house.

The final phase kicks off on Tuesday.

Date created : 2012-01-01

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