President Hosni Mubarak on Sunday published a decree urging Egyptians to vote in the three-stage parliamentary elections, starting outside the capital Cairo on October 18, the presidency said.
Voting has been divided for the first time into three stages to ensure compliance with a law adopted in July, requiring a member of the judiciary to be present in each of the country's 15,000 or more polling places.
The decree said the first stage will take place in the governorates of Alexandria and Buheira in the north, Minufiya in the Delta, Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya in the northeast, Faiyum, Sohag and Qena in the south.
The second round of the first phase will take place in these areas on October 24, it said.
The second phase will take place on October 29 in the governorates of Daqahliya, Gharbiya, Kafr el-Sheikh, Sharquiya and Damietta, all in the Delta, as well as the Sinai and the Red Sea and Aswan in the south.
The second round is scheduled there for November 4.
The third stage will take place on November 8 and then November 14 when voters in the governorates of Cairo, Giza and Qalyubia, which together make up the capital and its suburbs, will go to the polls.
Also voting in the third stage will be those living in the deep southern region of Asyut as well as those in Marsa Matruh on the northwest coast and Wadi al-Gadid in the western desert.
Voters will choose 444 of the parliament's 454 members; the remaining 10 are appointed by the head of state.
The new parliament will hold its first session on December 13, according to the decree.
Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP), which has been in power since 1981, controls the vast majority of the seats in the current parliament.
The opposition, which has just 13 seats, alleged massive vote-rigging in the 1995 elections, and the press has for several weeks been highly skeptical over the chances of a fair vote ahead of the coming election -- CAIRO (AFP)
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