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Egypt’s Morsi sets parliamentary election date

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi has announced that multi-stage parliamentary elections will start on April 27. The election comes a few months after Morsi inked an Islamist-backed constitution amid national unrest.

Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on Thursday announced parliamentary elections will begin April 27 and finish in late June after a four-stage vote.

#video#Each stage of the vote will include two initial days of voting, with another two days of voting to account for run-offs in the event of closely contested seats. The vote will be held in phases in different regions due to a shortage of poll supervisors.

The new parliament will convene on July 6, according to a decree issued by Morsi.

The vote announcement comes at a time when Egypt is deeply divided by Morsi's mainly Islamist supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and a liberal-led opposition. The country is also in the throws of a crippling economic crisis.

The election comes after the adoption of an Islamist-backed constitution in December, which was widely criticized by the opposition and international watchdogs for failing to protect key rights.

New laws ahead of vote

Earlier on Thursday, the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament that currently holds legislative power, adopted an electoral law that bans members of parliament from changing their political affiliations once elected. It also states that one-third of the seats should be reserved for independents.

Under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, independents who won seats often joined the president's ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which monopolized power in parliament.

The lower house was elected early last year, with Islamists winning an overwhelming majority. However, the Supreme Constitutional Court in June ruled it invalid, citing irregularities in the electoral law.

hc/ccp (Reuters, AFP)