Cairo (dpa) – Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi Saturday called on his compatriots to vote in large numbers to elect the country’s first parliament since the army deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi more than two years ago.
Citizens living in Egypt will begin Sunday voting in the multi-phase polls, which run through December. Egyptians abroad started casting their ballots on Saturday.
“I invite all Egyptians to go to the polling stations and gather there en masse,” al-Sissi said in an address aired on state television.
The parliamentary vote is the last and third step in a post-Morsi transition plan backed by the army.
The two others were writing a new constitution and holding a presidential election.
“I emphasize the importance of this final obligation, which will produce for us the House of Representatives, with a legislative power, an oversight role and acting as the voice of the people,” al-Sissi added.
The assembly will be Egypt’s first in more than three years.
In 2012, Egypt’s top court dissolved the Islamist-led legislature, saying it had been elected on faulty rules.
Some 568 seats are up to grabs in the new elections, which are contested by more than 5,000 independent and party-based candidates.
Final results are expected on December 4.
Al-Sissi has the authority to appoint 28 more members in the assembly.
Egyptians living in New Zealand and Australia were the first to cast ballots at their country’s diplomatic missions there, Egypt’s official Middle East News Agency reported.
Voting for citizens abroad is to be held over two consecutive days at Egypt’s diplomatic missions in 139 countries around the world, according to the report.
Egyptians residing abroad are estimated at around 9 million. Some 700,000 of them are registered voters.