Sunday, October 18, 2015 2:34 pm
Egypt’s long-awaited parliamentary election got off to a slow start on Sunday, marking the final step in a process that was meant to restore democracy but which critics say has been undermined by state repression.
Egypt has had no parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the democratically-elected main chamber, then dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, reversing a key accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.
Then army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted elected President Mohamed Mursi of the Brotherhood the following year, banning Egypt’s oldest Islamist movement and declaring it a terrorist organisation.
Sisi has described the election as a milestone in his roadmap to democracy.
Polling stations and state television broadcasts showed light turnout and little enthusiasm in early voting, in sharp contrast to the long lines that formed at the last, Islamist-dominated election in 2012.
Most voters interviewed were supporters of Sisi, who has brought a sense of stability after years of political turmoil but has been accused by human rights groups of crushing opponents. He denies the allegations.
Security was tight in a country facing an insurgency led by a Sinai-based group that supports Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni group based in Iraq and Syria.