Egypt court rules Mubarak ex-PM can stay in race
CAIRO -- Egypt's highest court ruled on Thursday that the last prime minister to serve under Hosni Mubarak can stay in the presidential race and that a third of lawmakers in parliament were illegally elected, forcing a re-vote in a potential blow to Islamists who dominate the legislature.
In one of twin decisions, Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court allowed former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq to contest Saturday and Sunday's presidential runoff against the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, Mohammed Morsi. The court ruled that a law passed by parliament last month banning senior former regime figures from running for office was unconstitutional.
The second ruling centered on parliamentary elections that were held late last year. A lower court earlier said that the law organizing that vote was illegal because it allowed political parties to run candidates for the third of the parliament's seats that were set aside for independents. The other two-thirds of the seats were contested by party lists.
The high court on Thursday agreed that the election for the third of the seats was illegal.
As a result, new elections must be held for at least those seats, and possibly for the entire legislature. The court did not specifically address what steps must now be taken, and the decision appears to fall to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of the military council that has ruled Egypt since the fall of Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011. Tantawi could suspend the current parliament until the one-third of seats is re-elected, or he could dissolve the entire chamber and order new vote on all 498 seats.
The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists have the most to lose from a new vote. The Brotherhood won nearly half of parliament's seats and ultraconservatives known as Salafis won another 20 percent. Many of those seats were among those dedicated to independents.
The Brotherhood's popularity has dramatically declined in the six months since parliamentary elections were held. Morsi won only 25 percent of the votes in the first round of the presidential elections last month. Non-Islamists in a field of 13 candidates won more than 50 percent of the votes.
Hundreds of police and troops backed by armored vehicles set up a security ring around the court ahead of the rulings and scuffles broke out immediately after the rulings were issued between anti-Shafiq protesters and the security forces.
Earlier, in the court, Shafiq's lawyer Shawki el-Sayed denounced the so-called "Political Exclusion Law" that banned ex-regime leaders, saying it "smacks of a desire to exact revenge, which undermines the sanctity of the law. It encroaches on freedoms."
Islamist lawmaker Essam Sultan defended the so-called "political exclusion law," saying, "The revolution is in a state of self-defense. Parliament has a right to tailor legislation for one person."
Shafiq and Morsi finished as the top two vote-getters in last month's first round of the election. The two-man race has polarized the nation. The anti-Shafiq camp views him as an extension of Mubarak's authoritarian regime. The anti-Morsi camp fears he and the Brotherhood will inject more religion into governmt and curtail freedoms if he wins.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.