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Egypt's Wafd Party head lashes out at electoral meetings, laws

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Egypt's Wafd Party head lashes out at electoral meetings, laws

The head of Egypt’s the liberal Wafd Party has criticised the prime minister’s meetings with political parties on the country's electoral laws, describing them as “useless.”

Ibrahim Mahlab has held a series of meetings this month with political parties and public figures to discuss amendments to Egypt's electoral laws, paving the way for Egypt’s long-delayed parliamentary elections.

El-Sayed El-Badawi, head of the Wafd Party that is expected to be a strong competitor for seats in the upcoming elections, said in statements Tuesday that the cabinet committee delegated to amend the laws disregarded parties’ suggestions. He described the meetings led by Mahlab as a “dialogue of the deaf.”

The cabinet is expected Wednesday to review new amendments to laws on the workings of the House of Representatives and the Division of Electoral Constituencies, in preparation for sending them for presidential approval.

Egypt has been without a parliament since the House of Representatives elected in late 2011 was dissolved in June 2012 following a court ruling that judged the law regulating its election to be unconstitutional.

Parliamentary elections were originally scheduled to be held mid-March but were postponed after some articles of the two election laws were ruled unconstitutional by High Constitutional Court (HCC).

"Worst parliament in Egypt's history"

El-Badawi criticised current electoral practices, saying Egypt is witnessing an “unprecedented chaotic political scene," adding that the upcoming parliament will be the “worst in Egypt’s history.”

El-Badawi claimed that some parties offer figures large sums of money to join and nominate themselves as MP’s, saying elections have become a “trade of MPs.”

El-Badawi added that “most [expected] candidates are ex-members of the [defunct Mubarak-era] National Democratic Party (NDP)” who have “a lot of experience in elections and a ready election machinery to get votes into ballot boxes … unlike other candidates.”

However, he said he does not completely oppose NDP figures as his own party has candidates who were ex-members of the party, while they belonged to old “Wafdi” parties.

The Wafd joined the “For Love of Egypt” electoral list in February that was formed days before the opening of candidate registration, before the HCC ruled to delay the polls.

The “For Love of Egypt” list is led by Sameh Seif El-Yazal, a former intelligence officer and chairman of the Gomhouria Centre for Political and Strategic Studies (GCPSS). He had said that he and many others were to run on a list of candidates that Mubarak-era Prime Minister Kamal El-Ganzouri was trying to compile, but decided to scrap it in favour of another list under the banner "For Love of Egypt."

In his statement Tuesday, El-Badawi commented on the list, saying it was advertised as being the “state’s list” which, he said, prompted conflicting responses from Wafd members on joining it or the previous Wafd list, to avoid being labeled as pro- or anti-state.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi previously said that his government does not support any particular party or electoral list.

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