VIDEO: Egypt in turmoil after high court dissolves elected parliament
Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court Thursday morning concluded what many critics described as a military coup, dissolving the democratically elected parliament, handing power back to the country's military rulers and casting doubt over the legitimacy of this weekend's presidential run-off election.
Egypt's in political turmoil after the country's courts dissolved the nation's parliament.
The Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that parliament must be dissolved immediately because about one-third of the seats are "illegitimate." While that ruling is not entirely unexpected, the determination that the entire parliament must be re-elected was a total surprise. The court rules that legislative powers had to be transferred immediately to the military council that has led the country since the protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak early last year.
Speaking to The New York Times, several outside groups called it a coup and a full-on attack on the Egyptian transition to Democracy.
“Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup,” Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, wrote in an online commentary, quoted by the New York Times. “We’d be outraged if we weren’t so exhausted.”
The ruling raises questions about the influence of the decision on the presidential runoff election, scheduled for this weekend. In a separate ruling, the court upheld the right of one of the candidates, Ahmed Shafik, who was Mubarak’s final prime minister, to run. He's in a runoff with Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi's candidacy, however, may be in jeopardy, because of the court ruling.
"The ruling may have had the effect of invalidating Mr. Morsi’s nomination, which relied on his party’s presence in Parliament," the Times wrote.
According to the BBC, the ruling has prompted fears that the military wants to increase its power over government, even as its supposed to be making a democratic transition. Parliament speaker Saad El Katatny argued no one had the authority to dissolve parliament. The court, however, said its ruling could not appealed and was final.
The dissolution of parliament also complicates efforts to get a constitution written. While parliament has appointed a committee to right a new constitution, and the court ruled that all acts of the parliament will remain valid, there will be no entity to approve the constitution as written until new elections are held.
It also means that whenever a president is elected, he's likely to take power without a clear definition of his powers and responsibilities, as well as a parliament to serve as a check on his powers.
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