Court Suspends Egypt’s Parliamentary Elections

Egypt’s legislative elections are pushed back by an administrative court’s decision.

Egyptians stage a protest outside parliament in Cairo, January 31, 2012
Egyptians stage a protest outside parliament in Cairo, January 31, 2012 (Hossam el-Hamalawy)

An Egyptian court on Wednesday ordered the suspension of parliamentary elections that were scheduled to commence in April, plunging the Arab nation into another judicial battle when the elections were supposed to bring stability more than two years after a popular uprising forced longtime president Hosni Mubarak out of office.

Cairo’s administrative court argued that parliament had not observed the right of the supreme court to review the election law. The latter triggered the revote in the first place last June when it ruled illegitimate a third of the legislative elections that had taken place earlier in the year because different voting systems were used across governorates to elect representatives.

As a consequence of Wednesday’s court decision, authorities will have to postpone the application period for candidates that was due to start on Saturday, pushing back the entire election process. The first polls were supposed to open late in April.

Members of President Mohamed Morsi’s ruling Muslim Brotherhood had hailed the vote as a way to bring stability to Egypt while opposition parties called for a boycott, saying Morsi should work to find consensus with liberal and secular lawmakers and ease unrest in the streets. The president’s opponents quickly pointed to Wednesday’s ruling as further proof that he is trying to usurp power.

Morsi issued a decree late last year in which he shielded himself and members of the Senate, the only working body of the legislature, from legal challenges. His government pushed through a referendum about a new constitution in December despite complaints from opposition members that it was too Islamists. Almost 64 percent of Egyptians nevertheless voted for ratification of the law. A similar percentage voted for Islamist parties in the last elections.

The supreme court is expected to review the administrative court’s ruling and thus determine when elections can be held.

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