CAIRO – Egypt’s top court ruled Thursday, July 14, that a former premier of deposed president Hosni Mubarak can run in this weekend’s ballot and declared the dissolution of the lower house of Islamists-led parliament.
"The military wants (Ahmed) Shafiq, the court will not rule against him,” Ahmed Yousef, a protestor with the April 6 Movement, told CNN.
“But we don't care, we will continue to fight against him."
The Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that a law banning former officials from running for president was unconstitutional.
|Egyptians Want New Uprising|
The ruling paved the way for Shafiq, who was appointed a prime minister in the dying days of Mubarak’s regime, to run in this weekend’s runoff vote.
Shafiq is vying with Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Mohamed Mursi in a two-day vote on June 16-17.
The law denying political rights to Mubarak's officials had prompted a state election committee to disqualify Shafiq from the presidential race, but he was let back in on appeal, pending the court ruling.
The Muslim Brotherhood said it would accept the overturning of the law.
"It's a reality now, and we must deal with it as such," said spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan.
The drama is emblematic of the tortuous and messy transition overseen by a council of generals since Mubarak was ousted 16 months ago.
A first-round presidential vote last month pushed more moderate candidates out of the race and the choice now facing 50 million eligible voters reflects a society torn between desire for change after six decades of military rule and anxiety over the damage wrought on Egypt by the subsequent political chaos.
Unrest has simmered on the streets of Egypt's cities throughout the period of military rule, with opponents of the army calling for the removal of "feloul", or Mubarak-era remnants, from politics.
The court also ruled that a third of the seats in the Islamists-led parliament were invalid, leading to the dissolution of the lower house of parliament.
"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," the court’s head Farouq Soltan told Reuters.
He said the ruling was binding on all institutions of state, adding that it would be up to the executive to call for the new election that he said would take place.
The parliamentary election was held under a complex electoral system in which voters cast ballots for party lists which made up two thirds of parliament and also for individual candidates for the remaining seats in the lower house.
The individual candidates were meant to be "independents" but members of political parties were subsequently allowed to run.
But that decision was challenged in court.
“Both decisions empower the Mubarak status-quo, which is no surprise, as the judges of the court were appointed by the latter, and represent a part of the so-called ‘deep-state,’ ” Omar Ashour, an Egypt expert at Exeter University, said in an e-mail to The Washington Post.
The two rulings have sparked criticism as a coup against the revolution that swept Mubarak from power last year.
"Keeping the military candidate (in the race) and overturning the elected parliament after granting the military police the right to arrest is a complete coup,” former presidential candidate Abdel-Moneim Abul-Futuh said in a statement on his Facebook page cited by Reuters.
“And whoever thinks that millions of youth will let it pass is deluding themselves.”
On Wednesday, the justice minister granted the military police and intelligence powers to arrest civilians, a move seen as aiming to stifle protests following the weekend election.
“This ruling means that the next president will work without institutions,” Sobhi Saleh, a leading lawmaker from the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice party, told The Washington Post.
“He will face huge criticism and rage.”
Saleh said that there was outrage over the Islamist majority of the parliament among Egypt’s old guard.
“And there was a plan to destroy it.”
Essam El-Erian, the deputy leader of the Brotherhood’s party, opines that Egypt is heading into a “dark tunnel” after the rulings.
"If parliament is dissolved, the country will enter a dark tunnel - the coming president will face neither a parliament nor a constitution," Erian told Reuters by telephone."There is a state of confusion and many questions."
Related Links:Mubarak Casts Shadow Over Egypt Vote
Egypt Poll Result Shocks Revolutionaries
Egyptians Protest Mubarak PM, Await Verdict