Egypt wraps up legislative elections

Many polling stations were empty in the final day of voting for members of the Shura Council.

Cairo: Egypt on Wednesday wraps up two-stage
elections for the upper house of parliament, which caps a
landmark legislative poll that saw Islamists propelled to the
centre stage of politics.

Many polling stations were empty in the final day of
voting for members of the Shura Council, in sharp contrast to
the long queues and active campaigning that marked the
People`s Assembly vote.

Less than 10 per cent of voters turned out in the first
stage of voting for the Shura Council which saw the two main
Islamist parties dominate the polls, according to the
electoral commission.

Final results for the upper house are expected to be
announced on Saturday, after which members of both houses are
to choose a panel to draft a new constitution.

The elections are part of a roadmap for a transition to
democratic rule laid out by the ruling military council that
took power after the popular uprising that overthrew President
Hosni Mubarak last year.

Under the complex system adopted after Mubarak`s ouster,
two thirds of the Shura`s 180 elected members are elected via
a party-list system, while one third are elected directly.

One third of the Shura Council will be nominated by the
head of state.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood`s Freedom and Justice
Party won a crushing victory in the lower house of parliament
elections, which were contested over three months, to clinch
47 percent of seats.

The Al-Nur, representing the ultra-conservative Salafist
current of political Islam, came second place, with liberal
parties trailing far behind.

The election comes amid nationwide protests calling for
the immediate ouster of the Supreme Council of the Armed
Forces led by Mubarak`s longtime defence minister Hussein

Protesters accuse the military council of mismanagement
and of human rights abuses.

The SCAF has vowed to cede power to civilian rule by June
when a new president is elected, but there is widespread
belief it seeks to maintain some degree of control even after