Egypt Poised for Newly-Revived Senate in Coronavirus-Era Vote

Egypt moved a step closer to getting a new legislative upper house on Tuesday, more than seven years after its predecessor was collapsed by an uprising that ousted the country’s Islamist president.

The first of two days of voting kicked off Tuesday to pick a 300-seat Senate, a chamber created under constitutional amendments approved last year that also paved the way for President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to secure additional terms in office. Egyptians living abroad had voted earlier in the week.

The Senate replaces the defunct Shura Council, an advisory body that became one of the symbols of the power struggle between an Islamist government led by President Mohamed Mursi and the secular opposition. Mursi was ousted in June 2013 in a military-backed popular uprising that opened the door for El-Sisi, then a career military officer and defense minister, to be elected president a year later.

Mursi, who was fielded for the presidency by the Muslim Brotherhood, had endowed the council with expanded powers after a court order led to the dissolution of parliament’s lower house in 2012.

The Senate, in its new form, serves as an advisory body on economic and sovereignty matters.

One third of its members will be individually elected by voters, another third selected under a closed party-list system and the remainder appointed by the president. The Mostaqbal Watan Party, which is packed with El-Sisi loyalists, is widely expected to win the party vote, according to state media.

Parliament’s lower house, critics contend, is largely devoid of opposition, especially in matters relating to national security. The legislature is broadly supportive of Sisi’s vision for Egypt’s development after the ruinous effect of the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime autocrat, President Hosni Mubarak.

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