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Egypt parliament runoff marred by reports of vote-buying

Egyptians on Tuesday and Wednesday cast ballots in nearly half of the country’s 27 provinces in a final parliamentary runoff vote amid widespread reports of vote-buying.

Voter turnout on Tuesday appeared to be low, with live television broadcasts showing almost empty polling centers in most provinces.

Activists, meanwhile, posted several videos online showing candidates in various districts distributing money to voters to cast ballots in their favor.

The parliamentary poll represents the final phase of a political “roadmap” imposed by the military following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi — Egypt’s first freely-elected president — by the army in mid-2013.

The army’s roadmap also included a constitutional referendum and a presidential election, the latter of which brought former army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to power last year.

Pro-Sisi candidates won most of the seats in the first round of the parliamentary vote held in mid-October.

Results of the poll are expected to be announced this week and the new assembly is slated to hold its inaugural session later in December.

According to Egypt’s official electoral commission, 81 local NGOs and six foreign organizations are monitoring the ballot.

The election is being boycotted, however, by the political groups that had supported Morsi and by some protest movements.

The latter include the April 6 youth group, which had been at the forefront of a popular uprising in 2011 that forced longstanding President Hosni Mubarak to step down after 30 years in power.

Parliamentary polls had originally been slated for March, but were postponed after Egypt’s constitutional court ruled that laws governing the country’s electoral districts were unconstitutional.

Critics of Egypt’s military-backed regime, for their part, say the polls are being held in the absence of any genuine opposition.

The now-outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group — of which Morsi had been a leader — swept Egypt’s last parliamentary election, which was held in late 2011 following Mubarak’s departure.

The following year, however, the Egyptian authorities, citing flawed electoral laws, dissolved the Islamist-dominated assembly.

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