Cairo: Egypt's military rulers commissioned a top judge on Tuesday to form an Electoral Commission, starting the process of organising the country's first elections after the popular uprising that ousted authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak.
The military decree effectively sets a timeframe for the first parliamentary elections in Egypt's transition to democracy. The commission will begin work on September 18, with the vote expected to follow roughly two months later, according to human rights lawyers. The decree, reported by the state news agency, did not set an exact date.
The decision settles a major dispute among various political factions over whether elections should come before or after the writing of a constitution. Many liberals fear well-organised Islamist groups are poised to win big in parliament and hence influence the writing of the country's post-revolution constitution.
"This is a strong indication that the military council is still committed to holding elections first," said Hafez Abou Saada, the head of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, which monitored previous elections.
As an apparent compromise, the ruling military council said it will prepare a document that would introduce guiding principles to prevent any one group from heavily influencing the new constitution.
The council has said it will transfer power to an elected civilian government within six months of taking over the country's affairs in February, when Mubarak was ousted. But they have not yet adopted an election law, which sets procedures.