Cairo, Jul 21: Egypt will go for new general elections in October, the country's military council has announced, but has barred international monitors to observe the upcoming polls, designed to move the nation back to civilian rule.
The Council said that preparations for the elections to the Lower and Upper Houses would be completed by September and voting will begin “30 days later” in three stages, Al Arabiya news channel reported.
“The exact poll dates for the Parliamentary elections, the first since January 25 uprising, would be announced after September 18,” General Mamdouh Shaheen, a ruling Council member told reporters here.
The General who outlined the new poll laws said barring foreign monitors was necessary step to protect Egypt's sovereignty, a decision which was swiftly criticised by thousands of activists staging a renewed sit-in at the Tahrir Square, who said it would raise doubts about the transparency of the process.
“We have nothing to hide,” the General claimed, but we reject anything that affects our sovereignty. The Military Council member said the country's judiciary would instead observe the poll process. The elections were scheduled to be held in September but were delayed to allow political parties more time to prepare. The General announced that the elections would be held in three stages with 15 days between each round and would be based on a mixed system combining a party list and single seat system.
Under the new election laws, 50 per cent of the seats have been reserved for farmers and workers, but the women have been divested of their quota, a step introduced by the ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
In a significant gesture to the youth who masterminded the January uprising, the General announced that minimum age for the candidates of the Lower House had been slashed from 30 to 25 years.
The new election laws in Egypt come amid fierce debate in the country about the future role of the army in the country's public life, with some viewing the army as the bulwark against the rising power of Islamists while others seeing it as efforts by the men in fatigues to maintain a role for themselves.
A key member of the panel drafting guidelines for the election said that most of the group's 50 members were objected to giving military any role in politics. PTI