Egypt's Higher Elections Committee (HEC) announced Wednesday an initial list of candidates accepted to contest the country's upcoming parliamentary elections, scheduled for October and November.
HEC spokesperson Omar Marawan disclosed Tuesday night that a total number of 5,420 had applied, all seeking to run as independents. In addition, nine electoral coalitions fielded candidates to run on party lists.
According to Egypt's election laws, the coming parliament will be composed of 596 members, with 448 independents, 120 party-coalition-based MPs, and 28 presidential appointees.
Marawan indicated that topping the list of electoral coalitions are the For the Love of Egypt list, the Call of Egypt, the Knights of Egypt, the Nour Party, the Egyptian Front, the Independence Current, the Republican Alliance, and the Reawakening of Egypt.
Marawan added: "If a certain candidate was not placed on the list announced Wednesday, he or she could file an appeal over three days, or between 16 and 18 September.
Initial news Wednesday shows that the applications of a number of high-profile candidates were rejected, including Ahmed Ezz, the former leading official of former president Hosni Mubarak's ruling party, and Tawfik Okasha, the owner of the independent television channel Al-Faraeen.
The applications of other high-profile figures, including Mortada Mansour, chairman of Zamalek Sporting Club, and Sama Al-Masry, a belly-dancer, were accepted.
The HEC said it will release its final say on appeals 27 September, while those who might choose to withdraw before the race begins will be allowed two extra days to do so, or until 30 September.
"We can say that a final list of candidates running in the first stage of the polls in 14 governorates will be made public 1 October," said Marawan.
The first round of Egypt's long-delayed parliamentary elections will be held between 17 and 28 October in 14 governorates: Giza, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Minya, Assuit, Sohag, Qena, Luxor, Aswan, New Valley, the Red Sea, Beheira, Alexandria and Marsa Matrouh.
Campaigning for this stage will run between 4 and 15 October.
Marawan disclosed that the HEC has decided that Egyptian expatriates in three Arab countries torn by civil war — Libya, Syria and Yemen — would be exempted from voting.
Egyptian expatriates are scheduled to vote in the first stage of the polls 17-18 October.
Marawan underlined that registration procedures had gone smooth, although candidates had complained of the costly and cumbersome process of medical check-ups necessary to apply.
Marawan said that although two court rulings on medical check-ups and electoral districts were issued last week, the HEC was keen that these rulings would not disrupt the registration process or the poll timeline.
"The original registration deadline of 12 September was maintained exceptt for in two districts in the Upper Egypt governorate of Qena," said Marawan.
Marawan explained that the HEC had decided to extend registration in Qena and Qous in Upper Egypt only, by three days, or until Tuesday. This came in line with the 7 September court ruling that the boundaries of the two constituencies should be redrawn to achieve representative equality.
Most political parties announced that they had already submitted their lists of candidates before the deadline of 12 September. Compared to the prior week, which saw a number between 200 and 250 prospective candidates registering per day, as many as 899 applied on the last day alone.
The electoral coalition named For the Love of Egypt said it had submitted four lists of candidates in the last two days. The coalition's coordinator, Sameh Seif Al-Yazal, said the four lists, including 120 hopefuls, will run in the four constituencies reserved for competition among party-based candidates: Cairo, South and Middle Delta (45 seats); North, Middle and South Upper Egypt (45 seats); East Delta (15 seats), and West Delta (15 seats).
On Sunday, Emad Gad, For the Love of Egypt's spokesperson, said the coalition would win the East Delta constituency (including 15 seats) unopposed.
"This is due to the fact that we were the only coalition that submitted a list of party candidates in this constituency," said Gad.
The HEC, however, insisted that "being the only candidate or the only party in a certain constituency is not enough to be automatically declared the winner."
"An independent candidate or a party list must get five per cent of the vote in this constituency in accordance with Article 24 of the House of Representatives law," Marawan said.
The For the Love of Egypt coalition is widely believed to be supported by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, though El-Sisi has denied that he supports any electoral bloc over another.
The coalition includes many high-profile candidates from different political parties, such as Al-Wafd and the Free Egyptians Party.
In a press conference Saturday night, chairman of Al-Wafd Party Al-Sayed Al-Badawi said the party's total candidates in the coming polls will stand at 273.
"Out of this total, nine will join the lists of the For the Love of Egypt coalition, while the rest (264) will run as independents," said Al-Badawi, indicating that "The list includes 14 Copts, 17 women, and 22 young people below the age of 35."
Marawan said three electoral lists applied in Cairo: For the Love of Egypt, the Nour Party, and the Coalition of the Egyptian Front and the Independence Current.
Competition in Cairo will be highly competitive as a large number of high-profile figures, including former cabinet ministers, religious clerics, artists, former judges, sportsmen, and business tycoons, are set to run.
Cairo alone is allocated 48 independent seats, while, alongside five other governorates in South and Middle of the Nile Delta, it is allocated 45 party-based seats, or a total 93 seats.
In Upper Egypt, three lists have been rejected by the HEC, among which were Nidaa Masr (the Call of Egypt), while two were accepted (the Coalition of the National Awakening, and For the Love of Egypt).
In the East Delta, only For the Love of Egypt applied and was accepted.
In West Delta, five lists applied, two of which were rejected and three accepted. For the Love of Egypt, Nour Party, the Coalition of the Egyptian Front and the Independence Current were accepted, while the Knights of Egypt and the Call of Egypt were rejected.
As for Cairo, four lists applied, three of which were accepted and one rejected.
The ultraconservative Salafist Nour Party, the only Islamist force contesting the polls, said it decided to field independent candidates in just 50 per cent of constituencies.
Shaaban Abdel-Alim, a leading official of the Nour Party, told Ahram Online that "The party has also decided to field two party lists only with 90 seats – in Cairo and South and Middle Delta, and East Delta – instead of four."
"We have limited the number of our candidates, either as independents or party-based ones, to show that we want to be partners with other political groups in the coming parliament," said Abdel-Alim.
Meanwhile, the last day of registration saw a lot of high-profile figures applying as independents. On top of these is prominent lawyer and flamboyant chairman of Zamalek Sporting Club, Mortada Mansour. While Mansour will run in Daqahliya governorate's district of Meit Ghamr, his son, Ahmed, will run in Giza's district of Dokki.
Zakaria Nassef, a former Ahli Club football player, applied to run in south Cairo's district of Maadi.
Al-Ahram political analyst Amr El-Choubaki also registered as an independent in Dokki.
In Menoufiya, Moatz Al-Shazli, the son of a former leading official of Mubarak's ruling party, also registered.
Sama Al-Masry, a maverick female actress-dancer and owner of a TV channel, submitted papers to run as independent in Cairo's Al-Azbakiya district.