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Egypt sets dates for parliamentary polls

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Egypt will hold a long-awaited parliamentary election in two phases starting on March 22-23, the country’s election commission has said.

The chief of the Supreme Election Committee, Ayman Abbas, said the voting will take place in phases in Egypt’s 27 provinces and among Egyptians living abroad.

The most populous Arab country has been without a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber.

The parliamentary election is the final step in a political roadmap the army announced in July 2013 after its removal of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, following mass protests against his rule. The second phase of the poll will be held on April 26-27.

Critics say President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled Morsi, has undermined freedoms gained after the uprising that ended 30 years of autocratic rule under Hosni Mubarak.

In the absence of parliament, Sisi has wielded legislative authority used to introduce economic reforms that have impressed investors, while also curtailing political freedoms.

The People’s Assembly has 567 seats, with 420 elected as individuals and 120 through winner-takes-all lists with quotas for women, Christians and youth. The remaining seats are appointed by the president.

The previous house was controlled by members of the Muslim Brotherhood who came to power in the country’s first democratically held vote following Mubarak’s toppling.

The crisis culminated in July 2013, when the military stepped in, overthrowing the democratically-elected Morsi in the face of protests against his rule. Al Jazeera

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