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Egyptian judges quarrel over Morsi's decision to restore parliament

Rival judges groups engage in war of words over President Morsi's attempt to reinstate parliament, which had been dissolved by then-ruling military council

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Jul 2012
Judges
Judge Walid Shoraby in press conference held by 'Judges for Egypt' movement on 20 June, as part of an initiative launched to monitor the presidential elections (Photo: Ahram Online)
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Egypt's judges are increasingly divided  over President Mohamed Morsi's attempt to reinstate parliament after it had been dissolved by the then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

In mid-June, the High Constitutional Court (HCC) had declared a parliamentary elections law – which governed last year's legislative polls – to be unconstitutional. The following day, Egypt's then-ruling SCAF ordered the dissolution of parliament's lower house.

Walid Shoraby, spokesman for the Judges for Egypt movement, made up of reformist judges who launched an initiative to monitor the recent presidential election, has condemned the strong criticisms of Morsi's decision made by Ahmed El-Zend, head of the rival Egyptian Judges' Club.

The Egyptian Judges' Club participated in protests against former-president Hosni Mubarak as part of the larger pro-reform movement that reached its peak in 2005. However, after El-Zend became leader of the club in 2009 it turned away from activism and took a more conservative and pro-regime stance, according to many of the club's members.      

"I urge El-Zend to realise that judges will not idly stand by and listen to irresponsible and unrepresentative remarks," Shoraby stated at a press conference at the Lawyers' Syndicate on Thursday.

Moreover, Judge Hesham El-Labban stated that judges would attempt to force a no-confidence vote in El-Zend regarding his position as a judge.

On Monday night, hours after Morsi's decision to reinstate the People's Assembly, El-Zend lashed out at the president. He warned that the president would have to backtrack from his decision within 36 hours or else more "severe measures" would be taken by the judiciary.       

El-Zend went on to imply that Morsi, who is a long time member of the Muslim Brotherhood, had reinstated the People’s Assembly because the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) – the group's political arm – holds nearly half of the assembly's seats.

"The [presidential] decree goes against the ruling of the High Constitutional Court, which is the highest judicial authority in Egypt," El-Zend said at a press conference at the Journalists' Syndicate on Tuesday.  

This incident is part of a string of confrontations between judges, President Morsi, and the SCAF.

The restored People's Assembly held its first session on Tuesday. In response, the High Constitutional Court said it was the "sole arbiter" in all disputes regarding the implementation of its own decisions and issued a ruling overturning the president's decree, thus returning the Egyptian political system to a state of chaos.

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Ramez
13-07-2012 06:27am
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El-Zend
Sorry, who is El-Zend!?!
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