Share This Page

Court suspends Egypt's parliament election

| Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 11:16 a.m.
REUTERS
People walk at Al Arafa, known as the city of the dead, near an electoral banner for independent presidential candidate Hany Morgan in old Cairo March 6, 2013. An Egyptian court threw the timetable for parliamentary elections into confusion on Wednesday, ordering the cancellation of President Mohamed Mursi's decree calling the vote and forcing a likely delay to polls due to start in April. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

CAIRO - An Egyptian administrative court on Wednesday ordered the suspension of parliamentary elections scheduled to begin next month, throwing the country's politics deeper into confusion.

The verdict followed over a dozen complaints questioning the legality of the law organizing the elections.

Abdel-Meguid el-Muqanen, presiding judge of the administrative court, said that the law must be reviewed by the Supreme Constitutional Court to determine its conformity to the constitution. Meanwhile, he ordered the suspension and annulment of the presidential decree calling for elections.

Details of the ruling were not immediately available.

The government can appeal the administrative court ruling, but at the least the ruling may cause a delay in the vote. The multi-phase election is due to begin in April 22 and last for nearly two months. The period for candidates to apply was to begin on Saturday, but that likely cannot take place until the legalities are worked out, possibly pushing back the whole process.

The ruling further snarls Egypt's political crisis over the divisions between Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and the mainly liberal and secular opposition. Protests against Morsi and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood have shaken the country for months, and the opposition had called for a boycott of the parliamentary vote.

"As it stands, we don't have elections, even if temporarily," said Negad Borai, a rights activist. "This reinforces the political crisis."

The opposition had opposed the election law, expressing concerns over gerrymandering by the Brotherhood, which dominates the parliament, and complaining it was not consulted before it was drafted.

"We respect court rulings and we don't see any problem with referring the law to the Supreme Constitutional Court," Mourad Ali, a media adviser for the Muslim Brotherhood's party the Freedom and Justice Party, wrote on his official Facebook page.

The parliament sent the draft bill to the constitutional court, which rejected it, asking lawmakers to amend nearly a dozen articles, including the drawing of districts. After some quick revisions, the parliament passed the law.

Plaintiffs argued the revised bill should have been reviewed once more by the constitutional court before it was made law.

At the heart of the legal dispute is an article in the newly adopted constitution that deprives the constitutional court from reviewing election laws after they were passed in parliament.

Bahey Eddin Hassan, head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, said the parliament rushed to pass the law without ensuring it had abided by the court's recommendation, effectively violating the spirit of the constitution which gives the court the right to ensure the law is in line with its recommendations.

Hassan said the parliament attitude was disrespectful of the judiciary. He said the legal dispute over the parliament and the law organizing it won't end even if the government wins the appeal.

"This adds, for the tenth time, a new element of uncertainty for Egypt's future steps," he said. "Regardless of whether the elections are held or not, Egypt appears to be heading toward more chaos."

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.