Parliamentary elections started on Wednesday in Egypt with a total of 1,635 candidates competing for seats in the People's Assembly (parliament). The election has been characterized by deep division between Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and its secular opposition.
Voting will take place in three phases, the first of which begins on Wednesday, with subsequent phases to span for one month.
10,644 polling stations are open throughout Egypt Wednesday, including in Cairo, for the first phase. Results of Wednesday's vote are expected to be released as soon as tomorrow, according to AFP.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his National Democratic Party (NDP) currently control 89 percent of parliament. Mubarak won a sweeping victory in the nation's first direct presidential elections two months ago.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which is officially banned in Egypt though tolerated by authorities, is the largest opposition force in parliament with 15 seats. The group led an aggressive election campaign over the past month, taking advantage of new freedoms allowed it under international pressure to increase transparency in Egyptian elections.
Many hope for even more transparency in the elections, with civil monitors being stationed throughout polling stations.
© 2005 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )