Cairo, Oct 25 (IANS) Egyptians voted in the first phase of the parliamentary polls in 14 provinces amid tight security measures and precautions against the Covid-19 pandemic.
About 2,163 candidates are in the fray for 284 out of 568 seats in the country’s House of Representatives, reports Xinhua news agency.
Half of the seats are allocated to individual candidates while the rest to party lists.
The Egyptian President will appoint 28 members according to the law, increasing the total seats of the House of Representatives to 596.
Some 33 million out of Egypt’s total 63 million eligible voters are entitled to cast their votes in the first stage, which is held under full judiciary supervision with the participation of at least 11,000 judges, besides the monitoring of local and foreign media, human rights organizations and candidate representatives.
Security has been intensified around 10,240 polling stations in the 14 provinces, with the military and the Interior Ministry vowing to immediately interfere to stop any violations, threats or acts of aggression that would affect the electoral process.
The Ministry’s security plan includes deployment at vital institutions as well as patrols in main squares and streets to ensure the security of citizens and properties during the voting process.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly cast his vote at one of the districts of Giza, urging all citizens to exercise their right to elect their own representatives.
Other ministers also cast their ballots on Saturday, including those of finance, electricity and social solidarity.
“Egyptian voters embody a civilized model of democracy by electing their representatives with a free will, demonstrating full awareness of the necessity of performing this national duty,” Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told reporters after casting his ballot.
For his part, Red Sea Governor Amr Hanafy said the authorities in the province made all efforts to ensure the safety and smoothness of the voting process, whether in terms of security measure or precautions against the novel coronavirus.
“We have imposed very tight anti-coronavirus measures for the safety of voters and the staff monitoring the elections. Everyone inside the ballot centre must be wearing a medical face mask and social distancing is strictly observed,” the Governor told reporters.
The first phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections was held right after the three-day voting of expatriates in 124 countries on October 21-23.
The second stage is scheduled to be held on November 7-8 in the remaining 13 provinces including the capital Cairo, Suez, North Sinai and South Sinai.
The result of the first stage is expected to be announced by November 1, according to the schedule released by the National Election Authority (NEA).
The NEA said the run-off rounds of the first stage inside the country, if any, will be held on November 23-24 and those of the second on December 7-8.
In August, Egyptians elected the country’s first Senate with 300 members, one third of whom are appointed by the President.
The newly created Senate will be an advisory body without legislative authority.