Egypt People's Assemby refers own fate back to the Judiciary

Ahram Online, Tuesday 10 Jul 2012

Egypt's reinstated lower house, the People's Assembly, resumes its sessions only to end them in minutes, referring its own fate back to the courts, possibly staving off a serious confrontation with the military

Mohamed Saad al-Katatni
File photo: Mohamed Saad al-Katatni of the Muslim Brotherhood attends session of the elected assembly in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)

Within just minutes of starting, Egypt's People's Assembly speaker Saad El-Katatni ended the first session of the reinstated legislative body.

On 15 June, Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ordered the dissolution of parliament based on a High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruling which rendered parliamentary elections law unconstitutional.

By presidential decree, the newly-inaugurated President Mohamed Morsi reinstated parliament on Sunday.

The parliament session opened Tuesday at 10:20am, with El-Katatni arguing that President Mohamed Morsi had not violated the HCC's decision by reinstating parliament.

El-Katatni declared he will refer the HCC decision to the Appeal Court, saying parliament is aware of both its rights and responsibilities.

The People's assembly sessions will not resume until the Appeal Court gives its verdict on the standing of members of the lower and upper houses of parliament based on Article 40 of the 30 March 2011 Constitutional Declaration which was issued by the SCAF.

The decision by the reinstated Islamist-dominated People's Assembly to refer its fate to the courts is seen as a possible compromise between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Military Council, thus staving off what looked to be a serious constitutional and political crisis.

The Muslim Brotherhood called for a million-march for Tuesday on the group's Twitter account linked to their official website Ikhwanweb to support President Mohamed Morsi's decree.

Leftist and liberal party MP's, including the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, Tagammu Party, Wafd Party and Free Egyptians, boycotted the parliament session on Tuesday.

The prestigious Judge's Club threatened on Monday to bring legal action against Morsi for "defying court orders."

Clashes erupted outside of the People's Assembly (lower house) as MPs deliberated for a total of 12 minutes.

The supporters of Mohamed Morsi's presidential decree that gives parliament authority to continue its work chanted “The people and the president are one hand.”

Meanwhile, opponents of the decree chanted “Down with the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule.”

A melee broke out amidst the tension between the two sides.

Tuesday, the High Constitutional Court (HCC), Egypt's highest judiciary body, is reviewing four cases challenging Morsi’s presidential decree.

The HCC released a statement on Monday saying it is not party to political conflicts and that its decisions are "binding on all state institutions," in reference to its mid-June ruling on consitutionality of parliamentary elections law.

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