On 21 February, embattled Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi announced that the nation's parliamentary elections would begin on 27 April, in a four-staged voting process ending in June.
Following the April elections the new parliament would convene on 6 July. Morsi is gambling that the election will help to end the political, financial and social turmoil that has troubled Egypt since the fall of former president Hosni Mubarak just over two years ago.
However liberal opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei denounced Morsi's election decision as "a recipe for disaster" due to Egypt’s continuing political unrest. On 23 February he called for a boycott of parliamentary elections and said that he refused to take part in "an act of deception".
Morsi's party, the Muslim Brotherhood, dismissed any suggestion that the elections would lack credibility, saying that the polls would be carried out under "complete judicial supervision". It said that Egyptian, regional and international media would follow the election closely, and that voting would be monitored by Egyptian and foreign civil society and human rights organisations.
The National Salvation Front (NSF), which ElBaradei leads, accuses Morsi and his Islamist supporters of monopolising power and not following through on campaign promises to introduce reforms and establish an inclusive government.
Meanwhile Morsi’s council of advisors, which once comprised 21 leading figures from across the political spectrum, has lost 11 of its members due to a spate of resignations and dismissals. The secularists and Christians started to leave in late 2012 before being followed more recently by their ultra-conservative Islamist Salifi colleagues – all of whom complain of Morsi’s increasingly partisan and authoritarian stance. Half of the remaining ten are members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
Since the fall of Mubarak in a popular uprising in early 2011, Egypt's turbulent transition to democracy has not lived up to most Egyptians’ expectations; the country's foreign investments have dried up, and the all-important tourism sector continues to suffer.