CAIRO: The first round of elections for Egypt’s Upper House of Parliament, the Shoura Council, will start on Sunday in 13 governorates, with new ballot boxes, the Supreme Electoral Commission (SEC) said Thursday.
Two-thirds of the council’s 270 members are elected: half are professionals and the rest are workers and farmers. Of these, 120 are elected through party lists while 60 are single winner seats.
The remaining third of 90 members is appointed by the president of the republic, “not the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF),” Abdel Moez Ibrahim, head of SEC, told reporters.
“The council will operate with the elected  members until the president is elected,” he explained.
Egyptians abroad have already started voting in the first phase, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs coordinating the process.
The first round will kick off on Jan. 29 and last for two days. The run-offs will take place on Feb. 7. It includes 30 constituencies in 13 governorates: Cairo, Alexandria, Assiut, Red Sea, Daqahliya, Gharbeya, Fayoum, Menufiya, El-Wadi El-Gedid, Damietta, Qena and North and South Sinai
The second round will be on Feb. 14 and 15, with run-offs on Feb. 22. It includes 14 governorates: Giza, Qaliubiya, Kafr El-Sheikh, Sharqiya, Suez, Port Said, Ismailia, Beheira, Matrouh, Minya, Sohag, Luxor and Aswan.
“The council will hold its first session on Feb. 28 in the correct path to transition of power as the Constituent Assembly drafting the constitution will be elected, followed by presidential elections all before June 30,” said Ibrahim, who praised the ruling military council for its role in securing the People’s Assembly elections and restoring stability in the country.
“We urge all candidates not to use public or private property, religious and educational institutions for campaigning like what happened in the People’s Assembly elections,” he added.
He also urged candidates not to stir sectarianism or resort to violence, threats and bribes.
Deputy Minister of Interior, General Mohamed Refaat Qomsan, said the police along with the military will be securing the polling stations.
Aiming for more transparency, new clear ballot boxes will be used, sealed with plastic locks that have unique serial numbers, instead of the red wax used to seal the wooden ballot boxes.
The locks can be used once and their numbers will be registered in official documents, he said.
New plastic boxes will replace the “primitive” wood and glass ones used in the staggered PA elections.
There will be a pamphlet distributed outside polling stations explaining the electoral process to voters, said Ambassador Ismail Khairat, head of the State Information Service.