No Egypt election before Ramadan, says minister

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. ‎

Source: Ahram online