Egyptian voters are casting their ballots in an "orderly manner," said Lasheen Ibrahim, head of the National Election Authority, on Saturday as the second phase of the House of Representatives elections take place on Saturday and Sunday.
Ibrahim said polling stations opened at 9am to receive voters who adhered to the coronavirus preventive measures, including wearing face masks.
Earlier on Saturday, polls opened in several electoral districts across Egypt to kick-off voting in the second phase of Egypt's House of Representatives elections, in a race heavily fielded by candidates of the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan Party.
Around 9,468 polling station opened their doors for voting on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 9pm.
Voting was suspended for an hour starting 3 pm as a break for the judges supervising the elections.
The second stage of parliamentary elections covers 13 governorates: Cairo, Qalioubiya, Daqahliya, Menoufiya, Gharbiya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Sharqiya, Damietta, Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.
Around 31 million Egyptians are eligible to cast their ballots in the second phase.
Wearing face masks and adhering to social distancing are among the mandatory restrictions adopted during the election.
Several high-level officials voted in the second phase of the elections. President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi cast his ballot in the Heliopolis Mostafa Yosri Abu Emira School.
Head of the Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II voted in a polling station in Cairo’s Waily neighbourhood.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar and Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad cast their ballots, and so did Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea and Minister of Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa.
In press remarks, Gomaa called on eligible voters to exercise their political right, describing it as a national duty.
He also warned against attempts to exploit mosques to promote parties or candidates, saying the ministry will be strict against violators.
A security force member helps a voter to walk into a school used as a polling station during the second round of Egypt's parliamentary election in Cairo, Egypt, November 7, 2020. REUTERS
Some 2,083 candidates are competing for 70 individual seats, while 284 candidates are competing under the list system in two districts.
Egypt upped its security measures nationwide to secure the governorates where the elections are being held, with security forces dispatched on main roads and other areas to ensure the safety of vital facilities.
The country’s local development ministry set a central operations room to ensure an orderly operation of the vote.
The State Information Service (SIS) also set a central operations room to facilitate the mission of correspondents covering the elections. Some 570 journalists representing 166 media institutions have been accredited by the SIS to cover the second phase of the elections.
Women and men wait in separate lines to cast their votes, outside a school used as a polling station during the second round of Egypt's parliamentary election in Cairo, Egypt, November 7, 2020. REUTERS
The domestic vote comes one day after around 140 polling stations in embassies and consulates in 124 countries concluded on Friday mail-in voting by Egyptians abroad after opening to receive ballots on Wednesday.
The results of the second stage are set to be announced on 15 November.
Earlier this month, the National Election Authority announced the results of the first phase of the elections, with the electoral list led by the pro-government Mostaqbal Watan Party sweeping the majority of votes.
The turnout in the first stage was 28.06 percent, with the number of people casting their vote amounting to slightly more than nine million out of 31.7 million eligible voters in the 14 governorates included in that phase.
The number of seats allocated for the first stage was 284, with 142 seats for each of the individual and electoral list systems.
Some 32 candidates in four governorates secured seats under the individual system, with 220 candidates set to compete in run-offs later this month.
The run-offs for the first phase will be held abroad on 21-23 November, while run-offs for the second phase abroad will be held on 5-7 December.
The run-offs will be held domestically for the first phase on 23-24 November, with run-offs for the second phase at home to be held 7-8 December.
The final results of run-offs for the first phase will be announced 30 November, while final results for the second phase are set be announced 14 December.