Presidential advisor says Egyptian elections will begin April 28

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi will call parliamentary elections toward the end of April, a four-stage process that he hopes will help end the country’s political violence and help resuscitate the Egyptian economy.

CAIRO – Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi will call a parliamentary election beginning on April 28, a presidential legal adviser told Reuters on Thursday, saying the vote would be held in four stages.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood backers hope the election will mark an end to a turbulent political transition punctuated by spasms of violence that have thwarted his efforts to revive an economy in deep crisis.

But the vote will take place in a country more divided than ever between Islamist parties that have come out on top in every elections held since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011 and a more secular-minded opposition that has struggled to organize.

Earlier in the day the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, adopted an electoral law as amended by the Constitutional Court, clearing the way for Morsi to set a date for the lower house election.

"Parliamentary elections for 2013 will begin on April 28, over four stages," Mohammed Gadallah, a legal adviser to Morsi, told Reuters. A presidential source had earlier told Reuters Morsi would call the election starting in April.

The vote would be held in phases in different regions because of a shortage of poll supervisors. The last lower house election, which was won by Islamists, lasted from late November 2011 until January the following year.

Morsi had been expected to ratify the electoral law by Feb. 25. The lower house was dissolved last year after the court ruled the original law used to elect it was unfair.

The new chamber is likely to have to decide on tough economic measures that the International Monetary Fund is demanding in return for a $4.8 billion loan which Egypt needs to tackle an economic crisis.

On Monday the Constitutional Court demanded changes to five articles of the revised electoral law. The Shura Council accepted this ruling and adopted the legislation without a vote on Thursday.

"The decision of the Constitutional Court is binding and we have no right to vote on it. It must be carried out," said Ahmed Fahmy, the Council's speaker.

The new law bars members of parliament from changing their political affiliation once elected. Under ousted president Hosni Mubarak, independents were often cajoled into joining the ruling National Democratic Party, which monopolized parliament and political life before the 2011 revolution.

The law also stipulates that one-third of the lower house should be designated for independents and bans former members of the now defunct NDP from participating in politics for at least 10 years.

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