Egypt supreme court calls for parliament to be dissolved


People reacted angrily to the court decision

Egypt's supreme court has caused widespread alarm by calling for the dissolution of the lower house of parliament and for fresh elections.

Two days before Egyptians choose a new president, it has declared last year's parliamentary vote unconstitutional.

Muslim Brotherhood presidential candidate Mohamed Mursi said the decision "must be respected".

But other political figures have expressed anger amid fears that the military wants to increase its power.

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Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup”

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Another senior Muslim Brotherhood politician, Essam Al-Arian, said the ruling on parliament would send Egypt into a "dark tunnel".

The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice party won 46% of the vote in the three-month parliamentary poll and Mr Arian warned that the decision would leave the incoming president without a parliament or a constitution.

Islamist Abdul Moneim Aboul Fotouh, who took part in the first round of the presidential vote in May, said that dissolving parliament amounted to "a total coup, anyone who imagines that the millions of youths will let this pass is dreaming."

Protesters gathered in Tahrir square in the centre of Cairo after the ruling.


The supreme constitutional court had been expected to say that some parts of the parliamentary election were illegitimate but the chief judge has gone much further by saying there will have to be a complete re-run.

That is bound to infuriate the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest party in parliament.

There are also reports that the ruling military council may take back the power to legislate and even, in effect, to write the constitution.

That is still unconfirmed, but if it did happen, the opposition would see it as close to a military coup.

A compromise is still possible. But it does look ominously as if Egypt is headed, at the very least, to a new political gridlock.

The Salafist Al-Nour party, which has the second biggest representation in parliament, said the ruling showed "a complete disregard for the free will of voters".

Parliament speaker Saad El Katatny was equally scathing, arguing that no-one had the authority to dissolve parliament.

'Historic ruling'

In a separate ruling, the supreme court also decided that former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq could continue to run for president in the June 16-17 presidential run-off election, rejecting as unconstitutional a law that would have barred him from standing.

Under the Political Exclusion Law, passed by parliament, senior officials from former President Hosni Mubarak's regime were banned from standing for office.

Mr Shafiq is standing against Mr Mursi in a tight run-off. He told supporters that the court had made a "historic ruling and verdict that meant there was no way for anyone to do particular laws for particular people."

Egypt's ruling military council (Scaf) held an emergency meeting after the two court rulings and later confirmed that the election would go ahead as planned, and urged Egyptians to vote.

But uncertainty about the intentions of the military had already been raised on Wednesday when the justice ministry announced that army personnel would have the right to detain civilians during the election period.

Ahmed Shafiq at a news conference, June 3, 2012 Ahmed Shafiq was the last prime minister under Hosni Mubarak

Addressing the fear that the military handover of power might be stalled, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters "there can be no going back on the democratic transition".

Mr Mursi was guarded in his response to the court's rulings. "I respect the decision of the Supreme Constitutional Court in that I respect the institutions of the state and the principle of separation of powers," he told Egyptian TV, according to AFP news agency.

But in a later speech he appealed to voters, with a warning that the country was at a turning point: "a minority are trying to corrupt the nation and take us back. We will go to the ballot box to say no to those failures, those criminals."

'Against the rules'

The court had been considering the validity of last year's parliamentary election, because some of the seats were contested on a proportional list system, with others on the first-past-the-post system.

It decided that the election law had allowed parties to compete for the one third of seats reserved for independent candidates.

The head of the supreme court Farouk Soltan told Reuters: "The ruling regarding parliament includes the dissolution of the lower house of parliament in its entirety because the law upon which the elections were held is contrary to rules of the constitution."

Many of the seats ruled unconstitutional were won by the Muslim Brotherhood.

But if parliament is dissolved, there will be uproar, the BBC's Jon Leyne says, because the Muslim Brotherhood has a majority of seats and will fear a worse performance in a re-run parliamentary vote.

Since the fall of Mubarak, Egypt's military has promised to hand power to an elected president by the start of July, but with no constitution and now the prospect of no parliament to write one, the new president is unlikely have his powers defined by the time he comes into office.


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  • Comment number 101.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    It was not that surprising that the military would strike back and seize power again. What I find disturbing is the reaction of so many BBC commentators. A few people decry the terrible set back that has befallen the Egyptian people but most either support the military coup, denounce the victims or go into Islamophobic rants.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    If the US Supreme Court overruled the election-count-mishap deciding George Bush Jr. was president for his first term, can't Egypt's Supreme Court dissolve the lower-house of parliament? Perhaps, this is an indication that democracy, as we know it, is indeed operating at it's optimum.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    In my opinion, the priority in Egypt should be protecting the rights of Coptic Christians. This would best be served by returning Egypt to British colonial rule, with democratic self-rule being granted to Egypt when improvements in the educational level of its people, the establishment of a responsible independent judiciary, make it possible for it to work properly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    # 82 Wideboy

    #94 Indian

    The problem with you guys is that everybody wants what you want, you cannot accept that someone has a different point of view than you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    49. Justice-101 - The West (and the Rest of the non-Islamic world) is afraid not of the Brotherhood, but of the brainwashed, fedayeen hordes that Islam has shown itself to be capable of producing, since the 7th century. Such hordes lack education, rationality, morality or a positive & constructive outlook to life, or respect for human freedom and intellect.

  • Comment number 95.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 94.

    This is a fight between the gun toting Army, and the Koran toting Brotherhood. Neither of them are bothered about the rights of the Egyptians. The Army answers to the international weapons traders and their Western capitalists, the Brotherhood answers to the forced cultural Islamization & Arabization of Egypt, a nation and culture almost older than written history itself. Egyptians are goners !

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    The military were never on the side of the people in the first place & were never going to hand over power to anyone. I wrote as much on the blogs of Al-Jazeera in the first week of the 1st revolution against Mubarak, even as people of the revolution thought they could trust the military/army. I hate to say it, but Egypt may be the next Syria about to happen because their "Revolution" was stolen!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    you really think all muslims will unite under the MB?
    you have to be joking, muslims cant even keep piece amongst themselves. thats one thing to be thankful for, each sect is as brainwashed as the next and disagree all the time

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    87. Hear, hear!
    In MB logic, the tightness of girls' jeans takes precedence over their academic qualifications. Google and read a "criticism" of Mina Al-Oraibi.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    muslims will never leave their warlord stance as they were founded by one

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Ther will only be peace in Egypt until Muslims leave the warlord stance of Islam and all convert to christianity, it is better for you god said so!

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    I know this sounds like tyranny, but the rules clearly were that a quarter of seats should go to independent candidates, and they were systematically broken. So you either ignore the rules or enforce them.

    What matters is that the election process is transparent and honest. Apparently it was (except for listings) within the parliamentary vote. I don't hear any complaints. Hope it stays that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    What about the Christians who make up 10% of egypt population?

    What about a Christian brotherhood?

    No doubt they will be forced out and the whole pro-palestinian lobby will quite happily ignore the fact Christians are being killed by Muslims, just look a Nigeria!

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I think they should follow irans example and prey about it....see what God advises.

    Ayatollahs are far more easy than stupid democracy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    82.Not all Islamic countries. Only the ones in the Middle East and South Asia mainly with improper administrators. Look at Azerbijan, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Turkey as counter-examples.
    One problem I have with Islam is their aversion to apostasy and their extreme stance towards this. In countries with ineffectual and hardliner Islamic regimes, this is a menace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.


    bbc strikes again

    at least my post was up there for a few min.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Corruption? Is there an honest government anywhere in the world?

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    The thing about Islamic country's they are happy to vote in a government that curtails their personal and political freedoms.


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