Egypt’s State Council Administrative Court over the weekend upheld a June 2012 ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court ordering the dissolution of the Egyptian parliament’s lower house, the People’s Assembly. According to the courts, Egypt’s election law that allowed partisan candidates to run for seats allocated for independents is unconstitutional, rendering the People’s Assembly that was elected with that law invalid.
It is unclear if this will be the last court case on the matter. According to CNN, the issue is not completely resolved, as judges postponed a ruling on a similar case involving parliament to October 15 — meaning, their ruling can change. The Egypt-based Ahram Online, however, reported that the People’s Assembly’s fate “appeared to have been laid to rest” when the court, hours after delaying the ruling for a similar case to October, ruled in favor of dissolution. Also awaiting a final court decision are cases against the constitutionality of the Shura Council, the Egyptian parliament’s upper house, and one against the Constituent Assembly — the body charged with drafting a new constitution — whose members were chosen by the now-dissolved People’s Assembly.
The first Egyptian parliament session after the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak. (Photo: Asmaa Waguih/REUTERS)
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi — whose former group, the Muslim Brotherhood, dominates parliament — opposes the assembly’s closure. Morsi was elected following the dissolution last summer and tried to override the court’s decision by calling parliament back into session. The People’s Assembly convened only once before the new president issued a statement saying he would respect a court ruling that overturned his decree for parliament to meet.
If the parliament is dissolved indefinitely, new elections would have to be held, which could threaten the Muslim Brotherhood’s dominance. But for now, Morsi maintains legislative powers in Egypt in the absence of parliament and after he forced generals into retirement with whom he shared powers. At that time, he also replaced a June declaration issued by the military with one that gives him broad legislative and executive say, increasing speculation of a power grab by the president.