Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has ratified a newly drafted election law regulating electoral constituencies, paving the way for long awaited parliamentary elections, according to state news agency MENA.
Egypt has more than 50 million eligible voters, and has not had an elected legislature since 2012, when the country's Supreme Court ruled that the parliament's lower chamber was unconstitutionally elected.
The old version of the election law used by the Muslim Brotherhood in their 2012 parliamentary victory was declared unconstitutional by the same court in March, causing an indefinite delay in parliamentary elections.
Independent political groups and human rights activists in Egypt have said the new law is molded by irrational security concerns and ignores the demands of Egypt's budding political groups which seek smaller districts to enable them to compete, as well as a higher percentage for representation based on party lists.
The amended law divides Egypt into 205 districts for individual candidates and only four districts for party lists, according to Sisi spokesman Alaa Youssef.
The next elected lower chamber will have over 560 elected lawmakers, with only 20 percent of them voted in on the basis of a party-list system, which gives little room for party representation.
Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for al-Dustour political party, said "We can't compete," Dawoud said. "They tailored it [the parliament] to be totally loyal to the president."
Al Dostour is a liberal political party whose leader thinks the law will produce a legislature that is a close copy of the ones under overthrown autocrat Hosni Mubarak, ousted in a popular uprising in 2011.
Previous Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), a political Islamist party that scored a sweeping victory in the country’s first free parliamentary elections in 2012.
He was ousted in a July 2013 coup orchestrated by former army general and current President Sisi. Following the coup authorities cracked down on MB members and supporters, declaring it a "terrorist organisation."
Thousands have also been detained, with politicised court rulings being handed out, including a death sentence for Morsi.