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Egyptians head to polls in final round of parliamentary elections

Egyptians are again headed to the polls today, in what marks the third and final round of the country’s staggered parliamentary (lower house) elections that have so far been dominated by Islamist parties.

Fourteen million citizens are eligible to vote today and tomorrow in the nine remaining provinces in the Nile Delta, Sinai Peninsula in the east, and the western desert governorates on the Libyan border.

North and South Sinai border both the Gaza Strip and Israel, hosting smuggling tunnels to Hamas-run Gaza in the north, and the lucrative Red Sea resorts frequented by foreign tourists in the south.

Al-Masry Al-Youm, a local Egyptian daily, reports that Egypt authorities closed its border with Gaza at Rafah for the two days of elections in restive North Sinai:

Egyptian authorities have closed the North Sinai Rafah crossing to Gaza for the two days of elections. An official at the Rafah crossing told MENA that the crossing will reopen on Thursday.

In the Gharbeya governorate in the Nile Delta, textile workers in the largest city, Mahalla, laid the groundwork for last year’s uprising when they called for a general strike on April 6, 2008.

Reuters reports:

In an industrial region north of Cairo where labor disputes over low wages preceded the wider protests that brought down Mubarak, optimism was high as residents lined up to vote. 

Run-off elections for these nine provinces will be held on January 10 and 11, Egypt's Higher Election Commission said.

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