Morsi in showdown with Egypt’s army, judiciary

Morsi in showdown with Egypt’s army, judiciary

Morsi in showdown with Egypt’s army, judiciary

A protester shouts as police stand guard during a protest against military council in outside Egypt’s parliament in Cairo. The Parliament is expected to convene today. REUTERS photo

Egypt’s top court has rejected a decree by President Mohamed Morsi to reinstate the Parliament, which it had ruled invalid, setting the president on a collision course with the judiciary and the military that enforced the ruling.

“All the rulings and decisions of the Supreme Constitutional Court are final and not subject to appeal ... and they are binding for all state institutions,” the court said in a statement yesterday, Agence France-Presse reported. This came after Morsi decided to order the Islamist-led lower house of Parliament to return a month after the court found certain articles in the law on parliamentary elections to be invalid, annulling the house. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which was running the country after Hosni Mubarak was ousted, had dissolved Parliament based on the ruling.

The court’s move could spark a confrontation between Morsi, who stepped down from the Brotherhood when he was sworn in last month, and SCAF, as well as the judiciary. However, the court stressed that it was “not a part of any political conflict ... but the limit of its sacred duty is the protection of the texts of the constitution.”

Its statement came hours after Parliament Speaker Saad al-Katatni, also a member of the Brotherhood, invited the lower house to convene today, following the presidential decision. Morsi’s decree also stipulates the organization of new parliamentary elections, two months after the approval by referendum of the country’s new constitution and the adoption of a new law regulating Parliament.

‘Political earthquake’

The presidential decision has also heightened tensions with the military, although both Morsi and Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who heads SCAF, appeared together at a military cadet graduation ceremony yesterday.

Some Egyptian media has reported that Morsi’s decision has caused a “political earthquake,” sparking a flurry of meetings among groups including SCAF and the Constitutional Court. “Morsi says to SCAF: Checkmate,” read the headline of the independent daily Al-Watan, as another daily, Al-Tahrir, declared, “Morsi defeats SCAF.”

His move also angered some secular parties, which had slammed the Muslim Brotherhood’s monopolization of power since the start of the uprising. “In any decent and democratic country, a president cannot disrespect the judiciary,” said Rifaat al-Said, the head of the leftist Al-Tagammu party. “Whether Morsi likes it or not, he must respect the judiciary’s decisions,” he told state television.

The military dissolved Parliament last month after Egypt’s top court made its controversial ruling, a day before the second round of the presidential poll that saw Morsi become Egypt’s first democratically elected head of state.