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January 02, 2012

Egypt Begins Final Round of Lower House Vote

With Islamist parties dominating the process, Egyptians in rural areas started voting Tuesday in the third and final round of elections to choose lower house of parliament members.

Voting began Tuesday in nine provinces, including al-Gharbiya, North Sinai and South Sinai, the last areas to hold polls in a series of voting that began in late November.  

The two-day vote is part of Egypt's first parliamentary elections since a popular uprising forced former president Hosni Mubarak from power nearly a year ago.

Egypt's Islamist parties dominated the first two rounds of voting, which covered the country's other 18 provinces.

"Why don't we try Islamists? We have tried seculars, liberals and communists before, and they ruined the country," said a voter. "So we should try Islamists this time and if it does not work well, it is not a problem, we can change them." 

The voting comes as the chief prosecutor in the trial of Mubarak on Tuesday made opening arguments, calling him a "tyrannical leader" who sought to hand power to his friends and relatives.

Mubarak is charged with corruption and involvement in the deaths of hundreds of anti-government protesters during last year's uprising.   

The 83-year-old former leader faces the death penalty if convicted of murder.  He has pleaded not guilty.

His two sons, the former interior minister and senior police officers are co-defendants.

Mubarak's trial restarted last week after a more than three-month suspension, while the court considered a request to have the judges replaced.

Egypt's military rulers said Sunday that the election process to replace the Mubarak-led regime will be sped up following clashes in Cairo as protesters called for a quicker transition to civilian rule.

Egyptians will next vote for parliament's upper house. The voting process is set to end February 22 with the full house holding its first meeting on February 28, nearly a month earlier than previously expected.

The parliament will write a new constitution, and the ruling military council has promised to hand power to an elected president by July.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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