Egypt military council
Head of Egypt's ruling military council Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi in Cairo, Sept. 13, 2011. Photo by Reuters
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Egypt's ruling military decreed on Tuesday that the country's first parliamentary elections since Hosni Mubarak's ouster will begin November 28, ending months of speculation on the timing of the key vote.

The elections for parliament's two chambers will be staggered over several months, with the vote for the People's Assembly starting November 28 and the less powerful Shura Council, the chamber's upper house, on January 29. The announcement by the ruling military council, which took over from Mubarak in February, was carried on the state news agency and television.

The last parliamentary election under Mubarak was held in November and December last year, when the ousted leader's now-dissolved ruling party swept the vote, winning all but a handful of seats in the People's Assembly.

The vote was widely condemned as the most fraudulent under Mubarak's 29-year rule and considered one of the causes behind the 18-day popular uprising that forced him to step down on February 11.

Egyptians went to the polls in March for a nationwide referendum on constitutional amendments. A decent turnout of more than 40 percent and the absence of any serious instances of fraud led many to declare it Egypt's cleanest vote in living memory.

Tuesday's eagerly awaited announcement came at a time of tension between the military council and the pro-reform protest movement over the generals' handling of the transition to democratic rule. The military rulers, in turn, claim some of the youth groups behind the January 25 to February 11 uprising received training abroad and unauthorized foreign funding.

The protesters and a broad spectrum of politicians say the military has not acted decisively or swiftly enough to dismantle Mubarak's legacy and bring figures of the old regime to account over corruption and other crimes. They also maintain that the generals ruled in near total secrecy and without consulting enough on major issues.