People walk in front of parliament in Cairo (Photo : Reuters)
Egypt’s long-awaited parliamentary election will not be held until after Ramadan due to technical and security issues, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ibrahim El-Heneidy has said.
"We are back to square one again and I do not expect the poll to be held anytime soon ahead of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan [which is scheduled to begin on 18 June]," Heneidy told reporters on Wednesday.
Although changes to the electoral constituencies law, necessary to pave the way for the parliamentary poll, were approved in concept by the cabinet on 14 April, they have yet to be presented in a final draft, he explained.
According to Heneidy, a government-appointed committee charged with drafting the law has yet to settle on the final division of electoral constituencies.
"The committee still has to work on key articles dealing with the division of constituencies and the number of seats that will make up the next parliament," said Heneidy.
He disclosed that the drafting committee – which he heads – had received conflicting statistics about the number of voters in 12 constituencies.
"As a result, the committee requested that the Public Mobilisation and Statistics Agency (PMSA) provide it with the most up-to-date figures about the distribution of voters in these 12 constituencies," said Heneidy.
He added: "It is necessary to get official and authorised final statistics in order to guarantee equality among voters in constituencies in line with rulings issued by the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) last month."
Heneidy said the committee reached a preliminary decision last week that the number of parliamentary seats would be increased by 25, or from 567 to 592.
"We thought this figure guaranteed equality among constituencies, but in a second review this week we found the difference in voter numbers in 12 constituencies still exceeded 25 per cent, in violation of the SCC's ruling."
"The review discovered that some constituencies still included up to 800,000 voters while others have just 100,000," said Heneidy. "As a result, the number of seats could increase again or be maintained at 592 but with boundary changes."
Heneidy said the 12 constituencies with significant differences in voter numbers are in Cairo, Alexandria, Beni Suef, Gharbiya, Menoufiya, Fayoum, Sohag and Qena.
Meanwhile, Heneidy indicated that the interior ministry expressed reservations over last week's preliminary division of constituencies.
"Ministry officials said the preliminary division had not observed security concerns in a number of constituencies," said Heneidy.
According to Heneidy, the interior ministry complained that some constituencies – especially in Upper Egypt – were merged together in violation of tribal and sectarian considerations.
Heneidy said the drafting committee will need at least one more week to make a new division of constituencies necessary to comply with the above technical and security concerns.
"Once we receive official figures from PMSA, we will need one week or even more to change the constituencies law and then refer the final draft to the State Council's Department of Fatwas and Legislation to be finally revised," he said.
Egypt's parliamentary poll was originally scheduled to be held on 21-22 March, but was postponed after the SCC ruled two election laws unconstitutional. The poll represents the third part of a political roadmap that has been adopted since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. The first two parts included issuing a new constitution and holding presidential elections in 2014.