CAIRO: Egyptian parliamentary elections that were scheduled for September have been delayed until October or November, a military official told the MENA state news agency on Wednesday.
“It has been decided to hold elections for the People’s Assembly and the Shoura Council next October or November,” MENA quoted the official as saying, in reference to the lower and upper houses of parliament.
The official said the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces — which took power when president Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February — “is committed to its previous announcement that the electoral process would start six months from the constitutional declaration” of March.
“This means that the electoral process for the People’s Assembly and the Shoura Council would start before the end of September,” the official said.
The process — including presentation of candidacy, campaigning, fixing voter registration lists and defining constituencies — would “take no less than 30 days and up to 50 or 60 days which is why elections would be held in October or November,” he said.
Previously, the military council had clearly set out its timetable stating parliamentary elections would be held in September, followed by the drafting of a constitution and that a date would then be set for presidential elections.
On March 28, General Mamdouh Shahin, a member of the council, told reporters that “the legislative elections will be held in September.”
The debate on whether or not to delay the elections had been debated for months, with some calling for elections to be postponed in order to give new groups more time to get organized.
In March, 77 percent of Egyptians voted in favor of holding an election first and having the new parliament choose a constituent assembly to draft a fresh constitution. A an army general said Tuesday that guidelines would be set for the selection of that assembly’s members.
The Muslim Brotherhood had thrown its full weight — and organizational skills — behind a “yes” vote because a September poll was expected to boost the group.
Some groups had expressed concern that having the poll first would result in the Islamist group having too much influence over the constitution.
But others wanted to push ahead with elections to have the ruling military council —which they see as an extension of the old regime — out of power as soon as possible.
The announcement comes as thousands have camped out across the country since nationwide rallies on Friday to demand political change.