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Egyptians vote in final phase of People's Assembly elections

(Xinhua)

08:52, January 04, 2012

CAIRO, Jan. 3 (Xinhua) -- Egyptians started voting in the final phase of the People's Assembly (the lower house of parliament) polls on Tuesday, the first parliamentary elections since the fall of ex-President Hosni Mubarak in February last year.

Polling stations opened at 08:00 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) in nine governorates, namely Minya, Qalyubiya, Gharbiya, Daqahliya, North Sinai, South Sinai, New Valley, Matruh, and Qena.

The number of eligible voters is 14.4 million in this stage. They will elect 150 lawmakers, including 100 from party lists and 50 from independents. The run-off of the final phase will be held on Jan. 10 and 11.

The parliamentary elections started on Nov. 28 last year. In the first two phases, the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party and the Salafist Nour Party won more than 60 percent of the seats, state media reported. The two Islamic parties are expected to continue their momentum in the polls.

The final results of the People's Assembly vote will be announced in mid-January. The new assembly will hold its first meeting on Jan. 23.

Egypt's ruling military council chief Hussein Tantawi ordered on Sunday to shorten the voting of the Shura Council (upper house of parliament) by about 20 days. The vote will be held in two stages instead of three and will end on Feb.22. The new Shura Council will have its first session on Feb. 28.

The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took power on Feb.11, 2011, when Mubarak was forced to resign by anti-government protests. The parliament was dissolved shortly after.

Under the pressure of frequent protests demanding a quick transfer of power, the military council decided in November to hold the presidential elections before June 30, 2012.

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