Candidates wishing to stand in Egypt's parliamentary polls will be able to begin registering on Tuesday after passing medical tests that will cost them EGP 2850 ($365) each.
In a press conference on Sunday, Ayman Abbas, head of the Higher Elections Committee (HEC) in charge of supervising the polls, announced that candidates seeking to stand in the coming parliamentary elections can register between 1 and 12 September.
"Registration will begin at 9am and end at 5pm, except on 12 September, when the window to register will close at 2pm," said Abbas.
Abbas also announced that the poll will be held in two stages, beginning on 17-18 October and ending on 1-2 December.
A new parliament could hold its opening session in the second week of December.
According to the HEC's new poll timetable, an initial list of candidates in the first stage will be announced on 13 September.
Candidates who might be rejected could file appeals with the HEC between 13 and 15 September. The HEC will give its final say on these appeals in five days or between 17 and 21 September.
This will be followed by the seven-day holiday of the Muslim feast of Eid Al-Adha.
HEC's timetable indicated that a final list of the candidates for the first round of the vote, including 14 governorates, would be announced on 28 September.
Campaigning for the first round will be allowed between 28 September and 15 October.
Abbas indicated that candidates who had registered in March when the elections were originally scheduled to be held will not be required to submit new nomination documents or undergo new health checks.
"They will be just required to fill the main candidate application paper," Abbas said.
Egypt's parliament – or the House of Representatives – will comprise of 596 members, 448 elected as independents and 120 from party-based lists. The remaining 28 seats will be filled by presidential appointees. Egypt has around 55 million registered voters.
While the majority of political parties are unhappy with the election laws, particularly the cap on seats allocated to party-based candidates, they have ruled out the possibility of boycotting the polls.
Political parties also complained that the poll timetable is long and exhausting, for both candidates and security forces.
Gamal Zahran, a professor of political science with Suez Canal University and coordinator of "Social Justice" electoral coalition, told Ahram Online that "the election process will continue for three months, the longest in Egypt's poll history."
"The election process will begin on 1 September and end on 2 December and this exercises a heavy burden on candidates and security forces in terms of registration and campaigning," said Zahran, adding that "while security forces will be forced to be in a state of high mobilisation and alert for three months, candidates will be equally required to prepare for a long period of registration and campaigning in terms of money and election tours."
Zahran said he was disappointed that the HEC did not highlight how it would oblige candidates to adhere to the regulations and prevent them from raising religious slogans, using places of worship for campaign purposes and keeping within the ceilings set for campaign spending.
Mohamed Abdel-Alim Dawoud, a leading official with the Wafd party, also told Ahram Online that the HEC's press conference came free of any details that would make sure that the polls are held in a free and fair climate.
"The HEC's Abbas said nothing about how the government would stay neutral during the election process and how the polls would be monitored to ensure transparency and fairness," said Dawoud.
Abbas said "the HEC took all the measures necessary to guarantee that the election process would be marked with integrity, equality and respect for the will of the voters."
Abbas also indicated that the coming polls would be the last for the HEC to supervise.
"According to the new constitution, the HEC will change into the National Election Commission (NEC) which will be supervising all kinds of elections and referendums," said Abbas, adding that "as a result, the HEC will do its best to ensure that its supervision of the coming polls is a good end to its job."
Anwar Al-Sadat, chairman of the Reform and Development Party, however, remarked that “while political parties complained that preparations for the polls took a long time, they are surprised that the HEC decided that registration begins just two days after its press conference."
"The HEC should have held its press conference at least one week ahead of the registration date," said Sadat, indicating that "new candidates in the first stage would find themselves in a rush to finalise their registration papers in a short period of time."
When the door of registration for parliamentary polls opened in March, a record number of around 7,500 candidates were able to apply. Political experts expect this number will increase when the door opens again this week, even if the 87-year old Muslim Brotherhood and some its Islamist allies would not be part of the process- at least openly.
Zahran said members of the Muslim Brotherhood and its political arm, the Freedom and Justice party, cannot register because the group was designated a "terrorist organisation" – in December 2013 and the party was dissolved a few months after.
“Most of the group's leading officials, including its former high-profile MPs and former president Mohamed Morsi, have been arrested and if any of their members decide to run they will face mass rejection from the people,” Zahran added.
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi said last year that "if any of the group's members were able to infiltrate the coming parliament, the people would move to expel them."
Some of the group's allies such as Gamaa Islamiya's Development and Construction Party or the Fadilla (Virtue) Party or the Asala (Authenticity) Party, whose leaders fled to Turkey and Qatar, will not run.
The ultraconservative salafist Nour Party will be the only Islamist force allowed to compete in the elections. But the party is currently facing a secular campaign under the name of "No to religious parties", aiming to dissolve it in line with article 74 of the constitution which bans the formation of political parties on religious grounds.
Although rocked by internal divisions in recent months, most non-Islamist political parties said they will either run on their own or as part of an electoral coalition.
A number of electoral coalitions have been formed including "For the Love of Egypt and the Egyptian Wafd coalition", the Egyptian Front coalition", "the Reawakening of Egypt coalition", "the Independence Current coalition", and the "Social Justice coalition."