Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has announced the first post-constitution parliamentary elections to be held from April in an attempt to douse the mounting anti-government protests and continued political impasse.
Mursi, in a decree last night, announced that the vote will take place in four stages due to a shortage of election supervisors. The new parliament will convene on July 6.
The election process will take place in four stages, April 27-28, May 15-16 and June 2-3 and 19-20, according to the official decree released by the president's spokesman, Yassir Ali. Runoffs will be held one week after each stage.
More stages raise the possibility of more politically charged violence, particularly in the province of Port Said, the CNN reported.
In the past year, violent clashes in the coastal province along the Suez Canal have highlighted the longstanding resentment residents there feel towards Cairo. Both Port Said and Cairo are included in the first round of voting.
Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement hope the election will put an end to increasingly vocal opposition and street protests, experts said.
The Islamist-dominated parliament was dissolved last June after judges ruled election laws were unconstitutional.
Earlier, the upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, agreed to amend the elections law based on changes proposed by the High Constitution Court.
The election call comes at time of deep political crisis which has divided the country into two groups, one supporting political Islamists and another opposing it.
The secular opposition represented in the National Salvation Front has decided to boycott the elections as long as their preconditions are not met. The preconditions include guarantees for transparency of elections.
These will be the first elections since Egypt's highest court dissolved the lower house of parliament, and it will be the first full parliament in Mursi's presidency. The upper house, the Shura Council, has continued to meet.
A number of opposition groups staged anti-government rallies on Friday.
The demands of the protesters include, "holding President Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood to account for their crimes against Egyptians, the dismissal of the Mursi-appointed prosecutor-general, and the immediate release of detained political activists," a statement released by the opposition protesters said.