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Egypt ends first day vote for upper house elections

(Xinhua)

08:13, January 30, 2012

CAIRO, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The polling stations of Egypt's Shura Council (upper house of parliament) elections closed Sunday on the first day of the two-day vote with a low turnout rate of voters.

In the first stage of the upper house elections, voters in 13 out of Egypt's 27 governorates went to the polls, including those in Cairo, Alexandria, Minufiya, Gharbiya, Daqahliya, Damietta, Fayoum, Assuit, Qena, al Wadi al-Jadid, North Sinai, South Sinai and Red Sea.

As happened in the People's Assembly (lower house) elections, some violations of regulations occurred in the upper house polls. Most notably, some laptops were used for publicity outside the ballot committees.

Although eligible voters have reached 25 million in the Muslim country, the 5,032 polling stations only saw a small number of them cast ballot on Sunday.

"The low turnout rate is due to insufficient advertisement," Fikry Murad, a 56 years-old Olympic National Committee board member told Xinhua, adding that the media did not promote the importance of the Shura Council.

"The press coverage all focused on the People's Assembly elections, as if the Shura council isn't part of the parliamentary process or won't affect the decision-making in our country," Fikry added, referring to the lower house polls where two major Islamist parties won most of the seats.

The Shura Council consists of 270 members, with 180 chosen by voters and 90 appointed by the president yet to be elected.

Egypt's ruling military council shortened the process of the upper house polls from three stages to only two, with the first being held on Sunday and Monday and the second on Feb. 14 and 15. A run-off will be held about a week later after the first round in each phase if necessary.

The first session of the elected Shura Council is scheduled to convene on Feb. 28.

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