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Egypt mulls election date change

Copts complain that election falls on religious holiday, causing presidency to consider changing the date

Image Credit: AP
Egyptian protesters block the road leading to the east port preventing loaded trucks from leaving the port, during the fifth day ofa general strike, in Port Said, Egypt, Thursday
Gulf News

Cairo: Egypt’s presidency is considering changing the starting date of parliamentary elections after Coptic Christians complained it falls on a religious holiday, state television reported on Saturday.

Islamist President Mohammad Mursi had issued a decree on Thursday to hold the four-round election starting on April 27 and 28, the dates of Lazarus’s Saturday and Palm Sunday.

The rest of the week, before Easter on May 5, is marked as the Holy Week. The runoff for the first round falls on Easter.

Many Copts believe Mursi and his Islamist allies want to sideline the minority amid persistent rumours - denied by electoral officials - that they had been barred from voting in some polling stations in past elections.

Bishop Morcos, a senior figure in the Coptic Church, said holding the first round on a Christian holiday would “affect the percentage of (Coptic) votes,” the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

State television did not provide further details on a new schedule for the election, which will replace the Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved by a court on a technicality before Mursi won a presidential election last June.

Voting will take place in four stages with the new People’s Assembly invited to convene on July 6, according to the decree.

Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement said it hoped he would change the date of the parliamentary election.

“We’re hoping president would revise the decree and change the dates for this particular phase, let’s put it this way,” the group wrote on its official English-language Twitter account.

Coptic Christians, who comprise up to 10 per cent of the country’s 83 million people, have complained of a spike in sectarian attacks since a popular uprising overthrew president Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.