CAIRO Political parties have called on Egypt's military rulers to ensure that figures associated with the government of ousted President Hosni Mubarak cannot run in parliamentary elections expected this year.
The military council that took over from Mubarak after street protests forced him to stand down in February has said it will hold a parliamentary vote this year, although a statement earlier this week announcing plans for voter registration did not mention any dates.
"The members of the coalition insist on changes to the parliamentary elections law and a law that would prevent the return of remnants of the former regime," a coalition of 17 groups, including the leading Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group, said in a statement late on Tuesday.
A member of the military council was quoted in the daily Akhbar newspaper as saying meetings were being conducted to set an election date, and its timetable will be set in the last week of September.
The council member, General Mamdouh Shaheen, said the council would consider some amendments to the election rules, which include a complex system of proportional representation that some political groups say could allow Mubarak loyalists to run as individuals.
Mohamed el-Beltagy, senior figure in the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party, said the voting system needed to be streamlined and clear rules laid down to keep out Mubarak allies.
"We need a law that would only let party candidates or known independent candidates run for elections and nominations should be based on a clear electoral program and background including a candidate's history of public work," he told Reuters.
Egypt held parliamentary elections last year that were viewed by many observers as the most rigged of Mubarak's 30 years in office. His ruling National Democratic Party has been dissolved.
Many activists are worried that the military will delay the elections. The government said this week it would toughen implementation of emergency laws after protesters stormed the Israeli embassy last week, embarrassing Egypt abroad.
Some analysts think the military is worried that Islamists will come out strongest in this year's vote.
"I think the military council is hesitant to hold an election for fear that the Muslim Brotherhood could secure a majority," said political analyst Mustapha al-Sayyid, adding such a parliament could try to alter the constitution to increase the influence of Islam.
Some voices in the Brotherhood, which has avoided strong criticism of the council in recent months, are threatening to take to the streets to prevent an election delay.
The Brotherhood is "ready to offer more martyrs in protests" if the elections are put off, official Hassan al-Prince said at a conference in Alexandria on Tuesday night.
(Reporting and writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Andrew Hammond and Peter Graff)