Government to discuss elections law changes with Egyptian parties

Ahram Online , Monday 23 Mar 2015

A court order earlier in March indefinitely postponed parlimentary elections until new election laws are drafted and passed

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb
Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahleb speaks during the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) in Sharm el-Sheikh, in the South Sinai governorate, south of Cairo, March 14, 2015 (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab is scheduled to invite political party representatives to discuss changes to a law regulating upcoming parliamentary elections, after a court order indefinitely postponed the polls earlier in March.

On 1 March, Egypt's High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruled that the country’s Elections Constituency Division Law is unconstitutional. Consequently, the elections, previously scheduled to begin 21 March, were postponed until a new law is passed.

The meeting will also be attended by members of the new committee tasked with amending the elections law, a statement Monday from Mahlab read.

The political parties' representatives, according to the statement, will have the chance to take a first look at the draft laws and "agree on a common vision for the election laws in accordance with the constitution."

Prior to being declared unconstitutional, a number of political parties criticised the elections constituency law, fearing it would create imbalances in the representation of seats against the number of voters in a given district.

Other parties, many of which are associated with the January 25 Revolution, had deeper grievances, saying they would not participate in the elections.

These liberal and leftist parties, including the Constitution Party founded by prominent liberal politician Mohamed ElBaradei, cited objections against the law, saying it would open the doors of the legislature to businessmen and political cronies, demanding the scrapping of a restrictive protest law they accuse the government of using to clamp down on political activity.

A date for the meeting has yet to be announced.

"The government is seeking to fulfill the last step of the roadmap by conducting fair and transparent parliamentary elections," the prime minister's statement read.

In August 2013, a "roadmap to democracy" was implemented following the ouster of president Mohamed Morsi. The roadmap contained three parts: amendment of the constitution, passed by referendum in January 2014; presidential elections, held in June 2014, and parliamentary elections.

Egypt has been without a parliament since the House of Representatives elected in late 2011 was dissolved in June 2012, following a court ruling that judged the law that regulated its election unconstitutional.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi holds sole legislative powers until an elected parliament convenes. The president has issued tens of laws, including major legislation, such as a recent investment law.

Once a parliament is elected, its members will have to vote on all laws issued by El-Sisi and his predecessor, Interim President Adly Mansour, in a period of 14 days.

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