Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi appointed on Wednesday judge Ahmed Abu Al-Azm as the new head of the Egyptian Council of State, as the outgoing head reached the age of retirement, the council's vice president Fouad Abdel-Fattah said on Wednesday.
The presidential appointment comes in accordance with a new judicial authority law ratified by El-Sisi in April, which gives the president the right to appoint the heads of the country's top judicial bodies by choosing from three nominees proposed by each body.
The new judicial authority law applies to the country’s top judicial bodies: the State Lawsuits Authority – which represents the government in legal cases – the Administrative Prosecution, the Court of Cassation – the country's top appeals court – and the Council of State, the country's highest administrative judicial body.
Judge Abu Al-Azm, 68, is the current head of the Council of State's legislative department.
He was among many of the council's senior judges who had expressed strong objection to the law, arguing it would undermine the independence of judiciary vis-a-vis the executive authority.
Prior to the passing of the new law, the heads of judicial bodies were selected based on seniority, with the president merely ratifying the selection.
Last month, the council proposed to the president the name of its senior-most deputy Yehia Dakroury to hold the post, and did not abide by the new three-candidate rule.
Under the new law, if concerned boards fail to present three candidates to the presidency, the president has the authority to select a new head from the seven senior-most deputies.
Judge Abu Al-Azm is currently the fourth senior-most deputy on the council's board.
Dakroury is the head of the Administrative Court who issued a ruling last year annulling a controversial maritime border accord to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, which were eventually transferred to the kingdom after parliament approved the deal.
New heads of the country's other three top judicial bodies were appointed by El-Sisi late in June, replacing judges who have reached the age of retirement.