Egypt tense after court rules to dissolve assembly

Egypt tense after court rules to dissolve assembly

Egypt tense after court rules to dissolve assembly

An Egyptian protester shouts slogans during a protest outside the Supreme Constitutional Court, which clears way for ex-PM Shafik to run in the presidential race. EPA photo

Egypt’s highest court yesterday ordered the country’s Islamist-dominated Parliament to be dissolved, saying its election about six months ago was unconstitutional. The move paves the way for the military to resume legislative powers and throws the fragile political transition into further turmoil ahead of weekend presidential elections.

The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that a third of the legislature was elected illegally. As a result, it says in its explanation of the ruling, “the makeup of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it does not legally stand.” The ruling means that new elections for the entire Parliament will have to be held.

Members of the ruling military council were in a meeting when the Hürriyet Daily News went to press. But a military source said the court decision gave the military legislative powers. “We don’t want it [the power] but according to the court decision and that law, it reverts back to us,” the source said.

The law governing the parliamentary elections, held over a three-month period starting in November, was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court because it breached the principle of equality when it allowed party members to contest a third of seats set aside for independents. The remaining two-thirds were contested by party slates.

Shafiq can run

In a separate ruling, the court said Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, could stay in the presidential race, rejecting a law passed by Parliament last month that barred prominent figures from the old regime from running for office.

Shafiq will go head-to-head on June 16 and 17 in a runoff against Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. The ruling said the legislation was not based on “objective grounds” and “constitutes a violation of the principle of equality,” leading to discrimination on “illogical grounds.”

A senior Muslim Brotherhood politician said Egypt would enter “a dark tunnel” if the Parliament was dissolved as required by a ruling from the constitutional court.

“If Parliament is dissolved, the country will enter a dark tunnel, the coming president will face neither a Parliament nor a constitution,” Essam Erian said. “There is a state of confusion and many questions.”
Both rulings amount to “a complete coup,” former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh said. In a statement on his Facebook page, Abolfotoh said a government decree issued June 13 granting military police and intelligence services the power to detain civilians was part of the same action.
“Keeping the military candidate [in the race] and overturning the elected Parliament after granting the military police the right to arrest is a complete coup and whoever thinks that millions of youth will let it pass is deluding themselves,” he said.

Compiled from AP, AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.