SCAF assumes parliament powers, right to elect Constituent Assembly: Legal experts

Salma Shukrallah , Thursday 14 Jun 2012

Analysts explain consequences of Thursday High Constitutional Court verdict which saw Parliament dissolved and the Political Disenfranchisement Law deemed unconstitutional

Supreme Constitutional Court
A protester standing on a barricade, shouts in front of soldiers outside the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Maher Samy of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) announced Thursday that both the lower and upper houses of Egypt's parliament are null and void, following the court ruling that the election of one third of the individual parliamentary candidacy seats and the Political Disenfranchisement Law were both unconstitutional.

Thursday's verdict means that presidential contender and Mubarak's last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, who would have been banned from running should the Disenfranchisement Law have been implemented, will still face Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi in next week's presidential run-offs.

The ruling also saw one third of Parliament voided as the elections law allowed political party candidates to contest seats reserved for individual, non-partisan candidates, thus violating the constitutional principle of equal opportunity.

Law professor and analyst Hossam Eissa told Ahram Online Thursday that the recently chosen Constituent Assembly will be automatically dissolved since the law issued on Monday that could render the constitution-drafting body immune to dissolution has not yet been signed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). The ruling military council, he says, is expected to take over the legislative authority until the parliamentary elections are repeated.  

"We are back to square one", Eissa added.

Legal expert and former head of State Council Mohamed Hamed El-Gamal confirmed that Parliament has to be completely dissolved, adding that parliamentary party members who won individual candidacy seats should have the right to rerun on party lists.   

"The verdict concerning the unconstitutionality of the Disenfranchisement Law was expected and so was the verdict deeming the parliamentary elections law unconstitutional," says El-Gamal, "We, as legal experts, warned in both cases that laws in general cannot be used for political purposes."

El-Gamal agrees with Eissa that the Constituent Assembly will be dissolved, saying that the MPs responsible for electing the assembly's membership or who are themselves included in the assembly will no longer maintain their legal position.   

Based on the verdict, El-Gamal says the SCAF should dissolve both houses of Parliament and call for parliamentary elections within 60 days. Eissa, however, disagrees with the time frame saying that no document outlines when the parliamentary elections need to be repeated.   

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