CAIRO: The Cabinet has approved new drafts of three legislations necessary to hold Egypt’s long-awaited parliamentary elections, according to a Wednesday Cabinet statement.
The new drafts were submitted Wednesday by an official committee that, over the course of three weeks, has been working on amending the house of representatives and electoral district laws after the Supreme Constitutional Court, the country’s highest judiciary, ruled they are unconstitutional.
“According to the new drafts, the number of individuals’ seats within parliament has increased to 444 up from 420 in the old version of the law while the number of seats for members elected through electoral lists remains 120 seats, whereas 28-29 members, representing 5 percent of the total number of members, will be appointed by the president,” Transitional Justice Minister and head of the committee Ibrahim el-Heneidy was quoted by Youm7 Wednesday.
“In its amendments, the committee aimed to make sure that the elections will be finally held without facing any serious constitutional challenges,” Heneidy said, adding that the cabinet has referred the amended laws to the State Council Wednesday for revision.
The article that the court ruled unconstitutional defines electoral districts for the individual system seats.
He indicated that according to the new amendments, “the number of electoral districts were reduced, with their boundaries redrawn, from 227 to 202 by merging some of the electoral districts of new housing communities to others within the same area,” pointing out that the new amendments come in line with SCC’s ruling which stipulated each electoral district to include 169,000 voters at least.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab met with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to present to him the amendments, according to the Cabinet statement.
The parliamentary elections were scheduled to take place over two phases, with the first taking place March 22-23 and the second phase running from April 26 – 27.
Egypt has not had a parliament after its 2012 Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament was dissolved in 2013, months after the military-backed ouster of President Mohamed Morsi in June 2013.
El-Sayyed el-Badawy, Chairman of Egypt’s Al- Wafd liberal party has fiercely criticized the new draft, accusing the drafting committee of “ignoring recommendations and suggestions” submitted by his party and other opposition parties, according to Al-Wafd newspaper.
The criticism of political parties on the law is based on that it violated constitutional guarantees for equal and fair representation by giving individual candidates 80 percent of parliamentary seats.
“The law opens the door for the remnants [Mubarak supporters], with their power and huge financial potentials, to win the majority of the parliament’s seats,” Abdel-Ghaffar Shokr, Chairman of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, was quoted by Al-Ahram.
Parliamentary elections represent the third and final step in a political roadmap set forth following the ouster of Morsi. The first two steps included passing a constitution in January 2014, followed by presidential elections in June 2014.