In a move that is likely to throw Egypt into further political disarray, its top court on Thursday annulled the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated parliament, paving the way for the ruling military to assume parliament’s powers, while also allowing ousted president Hosni Mubarak’s last premier to stand in this weekend’s presidential run-off elections.
The ruling military council announced that it would assume legislative powers from the dissolved parliament.
On Thursday afternoon, the ruling generals were in closed-session talks since the court ruling. “We do not want it (the power), but according to the court decision and that law, it reverts back to us,” the official said.
The head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Faruq Sultan, told AFP that the decision “voids” parliament and must be respected by the authorities. “It voids parliament,” he said. “The constitutional court’s ruling is binding on all state authorities and all people,” Sultan claimed.
The SCC based its decision on what it deemed illegal articles in the law governing parliamentary elections that reserved a third of the seats for directly voted independents, or party members, and the rest for party lists. The court also ruled that a law drafted by the parliament to bar senior former regime officials, such as former prime minister Ahmad Shafiq from standing in elections was unconstitutional.
A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), Mohammed al Beltagi, described the court’s decision as part of a “military coup.” “A series of measures, including giving the military powers of arrest, and then the court’s ruling are a complete coup, through which the military council erases the most honourable period in this nation’s history. This is the Egypt that Shafiq and the military council want and which I will not accept no matter how dear the price is,” Beltagi wrote on his Facebook page.
Outside the court dozens of people gathered to demand the application of the rule of law, amid heavy security. “That is it, the revolution is over,” one protester shouted, as others chanted against the military. “I reject Shafiq and Mursi (FJP’s winning candidate Mohammed Mursi), and if the court lets Shafiq stand or if there is a referendum on Mursi, we will go back to Tahrir,” reiterated writer Samara Sultan, referring to the epicentre of the protests that toppled Mubarak. “We want the court to fix the parliament and the only way to do that is to repeat the election,” she reiterated.
Shafiq was initially barred from standing in the election in accordance with the law passed by the parliament in April. But later that month, the electoral commission accepted his appeal against his disqualification and the case was referred to the court.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 15th, 2012.
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