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Egypt's cabinet approves law paving way for parliamentary poll

Electoral districts law is crucial step towards holding parliamentary election within next few months

Gamal Essam El-Din , Thursday 13 Nov 2014
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After a long delay, Egypt's cabinet has, in principle, approved a ‎semi-final draft of a new law aimed at redrawing the country's ‎electoral constituencies, in line with the new constitution‎.‎

Minister of Transitional Justice and House of Representatives ‎Affairs Ibrahim El-Heneidy, in public statement to parliamentary ‎reporters on Thursday, said the cabinet has ‎provisionally endorsed a preliminary draft of the law.‎

Heneidy explained that a semi-final draft of the law was presented to the cabinet on ‎Wednesday.‎

Heneidy indicated that the draft law, in line with the new ‎constitution and a new House of Representatives law, creates four ‎constituencies designed for competition among party-based ‎candidates.

"This was easy for the committee to achieve," said ‎El-Heneidy, pointing out that "the four party-list constituencies ‎will have 120 deputies, with two constituencies having 90 ‎deputies or 45 each, and another two constituencies ‎having 30 deputies or 15 each."‎

El-Heneidy declined to name the four party-list constituencies, but ‎reports and informed sources said two of them (including 60 ‎seats, or one with 45 seats plus another with 15) will be in ‎Cairo.

As for the difficult task of redrawing constituencies for independent candidates, El-Heneidy said the ‎committee was divided into two camps.

"The first camp, ‎supported by some members of the committee and a few political ‎parties, said the redrawing of constituencies governed by the ‎individual candidacy system and aiming to produce 420 ‎independents should remain regulated by an old administrative ‎system that placed the number of individual constituencies at 246.

‎‎"What is good about this system is that all the necessary data ‎about it is already available (including density of population and ‎geographical size) and it could be easily and quickly updated," ‎said El-Heneidy.‎

"The constituencies will be redrawn so that some of them ‎will be represented by one independent each, others represented ‎by two independents each, and others represented by three ‎independents each," said El-Heneidy.

"This ‎difference in number of independents among constituencies will ‎be governed by population density."

Some densely populated ‎constituencies in the Nile Delta, for example, will be represented ‎by three independents each – while some small districts could be represented by just one.‎

As for the other option, El-Heneidy said it is aimed at creating just ‎‎420 constituencies to be devoted to competition among ‎independent candidates.

"Under this option, each constituency ‎will be slated to elect just one independent candidate, thus ‎creating as many as 420 independent deputies as stipulated by ‎the law," said El-Heneidy.‎

According to the House of Representatives law, Egypt's new parliament must ‎include 567 deputies, with 120 elected as party-based candidates ‎and 420 as independents, while 27 will be presidential ‎appointees.‎

El-Heneidy said the above two options will be a matter of ‎discussion and national dialogue with political parties until next ‎Wednesday.

"When the cabinet holds its weekly meeting ‎next Wednesday, the two options will be available to choose ‎from," said El-Heneidy.‎

El-Heneidy said the final draft will also have to be referred to the State ‎Council's Legislative and Fatwas department to revise it in ‎constitutional and legal terms and before it is finally endorsed by ‎the cabinet.‎

According to El-Heneidy, the technical committee entrusted with ‎drafting the law is currently finalising some important aspects ‎such as counting the number of voters registered in each ‎constituency to ensure equality and fair representation for all ‎constituencies, as required by the constitution.‎

El-Heneidy also disclosed that some new border constituencies will ‎be created, with one representing the Red Sea Halayeb and ‎Shalatin, and two others representing Nubia and Kom Ombo in ‎Upper Egypt.‎

Halayeb and Shalatin has long been a matter of dispute between ‎Egypt and Sudan, with each country insisting that it is an integral ‎part of its territory. Egypt formally annexed the Halayeb and ‎Shalatin in 1994 despite objections from Sudan.‎

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