Egypt passes electoral law, paves way for elections
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, adopted on Thursday an electoral law as amended by the Constitutional Court, clearing the way for President Mohamed Mursi to set a date for lower house elections.
Mursi is expected to ratify the electoral law by February 25 and announce voting will be held in about two months' time to choose the lower house, which was dissolved last year after the court ruled the original law used to elect it was unfair.
The new chamber is likely to have to decide on tough economic measures that the International Monetary Fund is demanding in return for a $4.8 billion loan which Egypt needs to tackle an economic crisis.
On Monday the Constitutional Court demanded changes to five articles of the revised electoral law. The Shura Council accepted this ruling and adopted the legislation without a vote.
"The decision of the Constitutional Court is binding and we have no right to vote on it. It must be carried out," said Ahmed Fahmy, the Council's speaker.
The new law bars members of parliament from changing their political affiliation once they are elected. Under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, independents were often cajoled into joining the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), which monopolized parliament and political life before the 2011 revolution.
The law also stipulates that one third of the lower house should be designated for independents and bans former members of the now defunct NDP from participating in politics for at least 10 years.
Elections will probably be held in more than one stage in different regions because of a shortage of poll supervisors.
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