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EGYPT - Nov 22 - Egyptians Vote In Second Phase Of Parliamentary Elections.

Egyptians vote across 13 of the country's 27 provinces in the second phase of parliamentary elections after a low turnout marred the first stage in the absence of any opposition. The election is expected to elect lawmakers who firmly back President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who has crushed all forms of dissent since ousting his Islamist predecessor Muhammad Mursi in July 2013. Polling for the two-day second phase opened at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) across 13 provinces, including in Cairo, with few voters seen trickling in to cast their ballots. Only a dozen people waited at three polling stations in the capital's central district of Shubra when voting got underway. The first round of the election was held across 14 of the country's 27 provinces on October 18 and 19, when turnout was 26.6%. A run-off held days later produced an even lower turnout of 21.7%. If necessary, the second phase will also have a run-off on December 1 and 2. A run-off is held after the initial voting fails to produce a winner with a clear majority. Analysts expect voting to be low in the latest phase too, given the apathy among voters who expect the new 596-member parliament to simply rubber-stamp Sissi's decisions. Sissi remains popular to many Egyptians tired of years of political turmoil triggered after the 2011 ouster of longtime strongman Husni Mubarak. "I am here to have a parliament that issues laws to serve the people. I am sure the candidates will serve the country", said Neema Hanafi, 63, as she cast her ballot in Shubra. Egypt's last general election was held from November 2011 to January 2012 at a time of widespread enthusiasm following the ouster of Mubarak, and the first round saw turnout of 62%. The resulting Islamist-dominated parliament was dissolved in June 2012, days before Mursi became the country's first freely elected president. Mursi was deposed a year later by then army chief Sissi after mass street protests against the Islamist's divisive single year of rule. Sissi was elected to succeed him in 2014 after brutally crushing all forms of opposition -- supporters of Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood as well as secularists and leftists. The Brotherhood, for decades the country's main opposition group, has been blacklisted as a "terrorist" group and banned from competing, while several secular parties are either boycotting the latest polls or are badly represented. The ouster of Mursi saw a blistering government crackdown targeting his supporters that left more than 1,400 people dead, mostly in the streets of Cairo, and thousands imprisoned. Hundreds more, including Mursi, have been sentenced to death after often speedy trials.

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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Nov 28, 2015
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