, Cairo,Egypt, Mar 1 – Egypt’s electoral commission said Sunday it was preparing a new timetable for parliamentary polls, indicating a delay in the March 21 vote after a court ruled parts of the election law unconstitutional.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered that the law be redrafted within a month and asked that “legal measures be undertaken to avoid delaying” the election, his office said.
Egypt’s constitutional court ruled that sections of the law dividing the electoral districts were unconstitutional.
The administrative court, which rules on state related matters, will now decide whether to formally rule on delaying the poll that are currently scheduled to end on May 7.
But soon after the constitutional court’s ruling the electoral panel said the parts of the law deemed unconstitutional will be revised and then “there will be a new timetable for the procedures” for the election.
Lawyers who appealed against the law had said it failed to divide districts in a way that would adequately represent the electorate.
“The election will be delayed and the process will have to start from the beginning,” lawyer Mohamed Abdel Wahhab told AFP.
Former constitutional court judge Tahany al-Gebaly told AFP it was not immediately clear whether the poll would be pushed back or for how long.
The law may be amended in time for the election to start on schedule, but if candidates have to register again it would be delayed, she said.
-Sisi loyalists to dominate poll-
The election, currently set to be held between March 21 and May 7, would be the first since former army chief Sisi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in 2013.
After Morsi’s ouster, Sisi announced plans for a new constitution, to be followed by presidential and parliamentary elections.
The new charter was adopted in January 2014 and Sisi was elected president in May.
The same court had dissolved the previous Islamist-dominated parliament, which was elected after the 2011 uprising that forced longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak from power.
It ruled that parts of the law under which it was elected were unconstitutional.
That decision granted broad legislative powers to the president in the absence of an assembly, and Sisi decreed the new electoral law.
The upcoming election is to be held under a complex system that is supposed to produce a representative parliament.
Twenty-seven of the assembly’s 567 seats are to be filled directly by the president, with the rest contested through party lists or on an individual basis.
Critics say that with Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood having been crushed and banned, the elections are likely to be dominated by Sisi loyalists.
The elections are important to Sisi as he seeks to shore up his standing in the eyes of Western governments that condemned his overthrow of Morsi — the country’s first freely elected leader.
A government crackdown overseen by Sisi and targeting the Brotherhood has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.
Even secular and liberal activists, including several who played a prominent role in the 2011 revolt against Mubarak, have been jailed for holding unauthorised protests.