Egypt's new President Mohamed Morsi (right) poses with a gift from Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi (left), head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, during a ceremony where the military handed over power to Morsi at a military base in Hiks. (Photo: Reuters)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree Sunday afternoon ordering the dissolved People's Assembly (the lower house of Egypt's parliament) to resume its legislative activities. He also called for fresh parliamentary polls to be held within 60 days of the ratification of a new national constitution.
The assembly will practice its full legislative and regulatory responsibilities as soon as it reconvenes, which is expected "within hours," assembly speaker Saad El-Katatni declared in a statement issued early Sunday evening.
Ahram Online's correspondent close to the military council said that Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was currently holding an emergency meeting to discuss the surprise development.
SCAF had dissolved parliament's Islamist-led lower house in mid-June, based on a High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruling that found Egypt's parliamentary elections law – which regulated last year's legislative polls – to be unconstitutional, and declared the current parliament null and void.
Morsi's presidential decree, however, overturned the military council's decision to dissolve the assembly and ordered the assembly to resume legislative activities. The president further declared that new parliamentary elections would be held within 60 days of the ratification of the country's new national charter.
Morsi's decision comes only one day before the HCC was scheduled to deliver a verdict on an appeal filed by members of the dissolved lower house challenging the decision to dissolve the People's Assembly.
Mohamed El-Katatni, speaker of the parliament, will be giving a statement on the issue Sunday evening.
Only days after the dissolution of the lower house last month, the military council issued a 'constitutional addendum' giving the military full legislative authority until fresh parliament elections could be held.
The constitutional addendum also stipulated that new parliamentary elections be held one month after a new constitution is approved by popular referendum, expected sometime before the end of the current year.
Legal experts, meanwhile, have challenged the decision to dissolve parliament, saying that the HCC verdict only justified the dissolution of one third of the seats in the People's Assembly.
Last week, Morsi took his oath of office before the HCC, which critics say represented the president's tacit recognition of the controversial addendum.