Voting in a long-awaited election for a new parliament opened Sunday in half of Egypt’s provinces as the government works to complete a roadmap to democracy implemented following the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi as president.
The first phase involves 14 provinces voting Sunday and Monday, and the remaining areas going to polls in early December. Egyptians living abroad had the chance to vote on Saturday.
Current leader Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi led the effort in 2013 to topple Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president.
That brought a military-backed interim government with the promise of a new constitution and elections for a new president and parliament.
The constitution was adopted in January 2014 and Sissi won election four months later.
Egypt has not had a parliament since June 2012 when a court dissolved the body dominated by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, a group that is now banned and labeled as a terrorist organization.
Political parties are largely sidelined in the long-delayed parliament election, with three-quarters of the seats designated for candidates running as independents.
Analysts expect the body to support Sissi after his government’s crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition figures has left little other choice for voters.
Jobs and the economy were big issues for voters.
Some on Sunday said they think new lawmakers will help Sissi improve Egypt’s ailing economy.
“The country will be regulated and move into the future. It is very important to have a parliament,” Ayman Bendari said.
Other voters said they hoped the new lawmakers would take steps to create jobs and provide aid for the poor.
“We want the country to better, and people live comfortably. We need jobs for our young people,” Magda Abdeulsalem said.