First Stage of Egyptian Shura Elections Held Amid Calm
The first stage of the the Egyptian Shura Council elections started on Wednesday in eight governorates with a "quiet atmosphere," reported Al Ahram daily.
Over 230 candidates contested 30 seats.
But the paper said that one candidate was excluded in Menoufiya governorate because "he was unqualified."
The paper did not, however, identify the political affiliation of the candidate.
Observers had expected Wednesday's polling to be quiet, since 90 percent of the candidates are members of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), including several who are running as independents.
Unlike other governorates, Sinai witnessed a high turnout, said the paper, adding that the voting was based on tribal backgrounds.
The ministries of interior and justice earlier announced that preparations were complete for trouble-free elections, which are being held under the supervision of the judiciary.
The total number of contested seats in the three phases is 88, representing 67 constituencies.
Each stage will witness elections in eight governorates.
In addition to Giza and Qalioubiya in the first stage, candidates vied for seats in the governorates of Menoufiya, Beheira, Fayoum, Beni Suef, Qena and Northern Sinai.
Run-off elections will be held on May 22.
Starting May 27, the beginning of the second stage, voters will go to the polls in Al Sharqiya, Al Daqahliya, Damietta, Al Gharbiya, Ismailia, Suez, Southern Sinai and the Red Sea.
On June 2, run-off elections will be conducted for 25 seats.
The third stage, lasting June 7-12, comprises the governorates of Cairo, Alexandria, Kafr Al Sheikh, Al Minya, Assiut, Sohag, Aswan and the New Valley.
Thirty-three seats will be filled in this final stage.
No elections will be held in the two governorates of Marsa Matruh and Port Said because the membership of their representatives is valid until 2004.
The 264-seat Shura Council is a consultative body that serves as an upper house.
According to the constitution, there should be no less than 132 members, two thirds of them elected by secret ballot, while the remaining third is appointed by the president.
The council provides consultations on constitutional and other major issues -- Albawaba.com
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