Egyptians vote in final round of polls

Cairo: Egyptians today voted in the third and final round of the landmark elections to the lower house of Parliament in the post-Mubarak era, which have so far been dominated by Islamist parties.

Polling stations opened at 8 am local time in nine governorates of Qalubyia, North Sinai, South Sinai, the New Valley, Marsa Matrouh, Dakahlia, Minya, Qena and Gharbia. These constituencies contain areas where a considerable mass of Christian voters reside as well as places where the norms are based on tribalism.

As many as 2,754 candidates are vying for 150 seats. The run-off elections will be held on January 10-11. Around 15 million voters were eligible to cast their votes to elect members of Parliament and the polling was being held under full judicial supervision. The first two round of elections handed Islamists top slots, with the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood getting the first position and the ultra-conservative Salafi Nur party securing the second spot.

The first Parliamentary elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in February kicked off on November 28. The second round had taken place on December 14. Voters have been asked to elect 498 members of the lower house of Parliament, while 10 others will be appointed by interim military leader Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

The voters will again cast their ballots on January 29 to elect the Shura Council, the upper house of Parliament. The ruling Generals, who assumed power after Mubarak was toppled, have vowed to quit after the Presidential elections, expected in June. Final election results are due to be announced January 13.