Former presidential contender Ahmed Shafiq's appeal against the results of the 2012 presidential elections, which brought President Mohamed Morsi to office, have triggered legal debate in Egypt on the possible repercussions of his case, should he be successful.
Morsi beat rival Shafiq, who was appointed prime minister by ousted president Hosni Mubarak during the 2011 January revolution and left office in March 2011 amid protests, in the 2012 elections, receiving 51.7 percent of the votes in the final round.
The Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC), which supervised and issued the election results, has scheduled a session on Tuesday to look into the appeal and make a decision as to whether the appeal has grounds to be examined further.
"According to the presidential elections law, the period set for filing appeals related to the electoral process ends with the announcing of the results," lawyer Mohamed Abdallah, head of legislation development at the state-run National Council for Human Rights, told Ahram Online.
"However, if new evidence appears, it does not count until the time at which it is discovered," he added.
Shafiq's lawyer Shawky El-Sayed, who filed the appeal on behalf of his client who currently resides in the UAE, claims that the election results were forged.
El-Sayed filed a previous complaint about violations.
This case is currently being investigated by the general prosecution, and a committee of experts was delegated to look into El-Sayed’s submissions.
Last year, media reports circulated claiming that Morsi's campaign used Amiri printing company to print special voting ballots which showed Morsi already selected from the list of candidates.
El-Sayed claims that he has documents proving these reports.
Morsi's campaign filed a case last year against Amiri in response to these allegations.
Another legal issue that arises with Shafiq's appeal is Article 28 of the March 2011 constitutional declaration issued by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
Article 28 made the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission the only body mandated to supervise the presidential elections, and rendered its decisions immune from appeal.
In reaction to Shafiq's appeal, Essam El-Erian, vice-chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), from which Morsi hails, criticised Shafiq’s case, citing Article 28 as a barrier against the appeal.
Judge Mohamed Hamed El-Gamal, former head of Egypt's State Council, said that the article was valid at the time, but has now been superseded, rendering the SPEC’s decisions no longer immune.
According to that, El-Gamal said, SPEC could cite the article if it decides to reject Shafiq's appeal.
SCAF, which took over Egypt's rule after the 18-day January 2011 uprising, issued the constitutional declaration on 30 March 2011, disabling the 1971 constitution. A referendum took place in April in which 77 percent of voters supported the declaration.
In December 2013, a new constitution came into force following a national referendum which approved the charter, making the interim constitutional declaration inactive.
"This means that Article 28 no longer exists," Abdallah said.
Abdallah described legal views that Article 28 is still valid at the present time as "illogical."
El-Gamal, however, deems the article originally void, regardless of the fact that it was implemented, because he says that "it halts the judges' mandate to monitor [SPEC's] decisions."
"It also disregards the principles of upholding the rule of law and equality," he added.
Accepting the appeal
Egypt does not have a law regulating the procedure of appealing against presidential election results.
"We cannot anticipate what will happen if SPEC accepts Shafiq's appeal," Abdallah said. "We will have to wait for its decisions."
El-Gamal said that in such a case SPEC will cite "general principles" of the justice system on how to regulate the issue.
However, Abdallah argues that Morsi should have created an independent, neutral committee to look into the allegations of forgery.
"The president's legitimacy is at stake," he said, criticising the presidency's silence so far on Shafiq's appeal.
Egypt is anticipating nationwide anti-Morsi protests starting on 30 June, aimed at pushing Morsi to step down, and calling for early presidential elections.