Ethnic groups in Halayeb, Nubia to receive 2 parliamentary seats
Egyptian Parliament - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: The disputed Halayeb Triangle on the Egyptian-Sudanese border will be allocated a parliamentary seat per an anticipated law regulating the elections expected before March, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

The government is working on the law dividing electoral constituencies, which will be issued soon, Gamal Zahran, coordinator of the electoral Social Justice Alliance, quoted Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab as saying in a Monday meeting with the National Association for Change and several Nasserite parties, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Tuesday.

Other southern ethnic groups in Nubia will also receive one seat, according to reports that have emerged since June and were confirmed by Zahran to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Nubian activists, who have long condemned “systematic marginalization” by the state, have demanded two seats, rather than one, because of the diverse tribal nature of their towns.

Nubians were displaced from their historic lands several times in the 20th century to leave room to build the Aswan Reservoir, then the High Dam and Lake Nasser, which flooded their villages behind the dam. The ethnic group, which reaches into northern Sudan, has complained that it has not been properly compensated since then.

Both Egypt and Sudan consider the Halayeb Triangle a part of their national territory, but it remains under Egyptian control in a status quo consolidated by holding parliamentary elections in the area in 2011, as well as the promised parliamentary seat in 2015.

Halayeb’s territorial water is believed to contain oil wells, and its arable land includes rich natural reserves. The inhabitants of the 20-km2 area belong to the Beja ethnic group, who live along the Red Sea from southern Egypt through Sudan and Eritrea.

Nevertheless, Egyptian-Sudanese relations seem to have flourished after a visit by President Omar al-Bashir to Egypt in October, preceded by his counterpart’s visit to Sudan in June.

The approximate date of the elections was set by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi at a Monday meeting with a high-level delegation of U.S. business owners and potential investors in Egypt.

Sisi added that electing a parliament will finalize the 2013 roadmap prior to the country’s hopeful International Economic Summit, recently postponed to March.  Major businesses are expected to explore promising projects in Egypt at the summit, but also hope for a stable environment for their capital.

The awaited parliamentary elections law has not received consensus after months of negotiations between stakeholders.

Other less controversial steps toward the elections have been taken, such as forming a committee to monitor the legality electoral campaigns and other sub-committees representing the High Election Committee at governorates.

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