Cairo (CNN) — Egypt’s highest court declared the parliament invalid Thursday, and the country’s interim military rulers promptly declared full legislative authority, triggering a new level of chaos and confusion in the country’s leadership.
The Supreme Constitutional Court found that all articles making up the law that regulated parliamentary elections are invalid, said Showee Elsayed, a constitutional lawyer.
The ruling means that parliament must be dissolved, state TV reported.
Parliament has been in session for just over four months. It is dominated by Islamists, a group long viewed with suspicion by the military.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, in control of the country since Mubarak’s ouster, said that it now has full legislative power and will announce a 100-person assembly that will write the country’s new constitution by Friday.
The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamist party, said SCAF leaders were taking matters into their own hands “against any true democracy they spoke of.”
The court also ruled that former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik. the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, may run in a presidential election runoff this weekend.
The court rejected a law barring former members of Mubarak’s regime from running in the election.
The runoff Saturday and Sunday pits Shafik against Mohamed Morsi, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm.
“We do not need a court ruling to ban Shafik,” said Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan. “We will put all our efforts into the upcoming elections so that Morsi wins and we avoid the rebirth of the old regime overnight.”
“All this equals a complete coup d’etat through which the military council is writing off the most noble stage in the nation’s history,” said Mohamed el-Beltagy, a member of parliament and a senior member of Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party, in a Facebook posting. “This is the Egypt which Shafik and the military council desire.”
Shafik, at a news conference in Cairo, praised the high court for rejecting the rule preventing former regime members from running. “The age of settling accounts is over and gone. The age of using the law and the country’s institutions against any individual is over,” he said.
Some analysts also called it a coup.
“Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup,” said Hossam Bahgat of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, in a tweet after the high court’s decisions Thursday. “We’d be outraged if we weren’t so exhausted.”
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- Muslim Brotherhood still can’t win the backing of Egypt’s revolutionaries (kansascity.com)
- You: Egypt election boycott gains momentum (latimes.com)
- Tense Egypt braces for ruling that could cancel presidential vote – Toronto Star (thestar.com)
- Egypt faces legal crisis before presidential poll (dailystar.com.lb)
- Egypt Reimposes Martial Law, Ahead of Closely Watched Ruling – New York Times (nytimes.com)
- New Egypt constitution body faces fresh challenge (dailystar.com.lb)