Egypt court rejects reinstatement of dissolved lower house of parliament

Ahram Online, Saturday 22 Sep 2012

Egypt's Administrative Court declines on Saturday to overturn High Constitutional Court decision that lead to the dissolution of the People's Assembly

A general view of the first Egyptian parliament session after the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo January 23, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

The Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled Saturday to uphold the verdict of the High Constitutional Court (HCC) deeming the People's Assembly, formed after national polls in November 2011 unconstitutional. The assembly was dissolved on the basis of that verdict.

Although the SAC adjourned a similar case Saturday appealing the dissolution of the People Assembly, parliament's lower house, to 15 October, only hours later it ruled in a different case in favour of the HCC verdict.

The dissolution of the People's Assembly was a matter of great controversy in past months since HCC decision 14 June. The Muslim Brotherhood, forming the largest bloc of the former People's Assembly, vociferously opposed the verdict together with other Islamists, with many of their lawyers working to saving the assembly through legal appeals.

Upon his inauguration, President Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Brotherhood's ranks, declared the People's Assembly reinstated. However, after his decision was deemed legally flawed, parliament did not resume its functions, waiting for the Administrative Court's final verdict on filed appeals.

Several Brotherhood members, including acting chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and former MP Essam El-Erian as well as secretary general of the FJP and former Parliament Speaker Mohamed Saad El-Katatni were amongst the most prominent figures confirming there was a legal possibility that the assembly would be reinstated.

Their statements were repeatedly criticised by legal experts who argued that the reinstatement of the assembly was unlikely considering that the HCC had already ruled on its unconstitutionality.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed justice minister, Ahmed Mekki, earlier criticised the HCC for issuing its verdict dissolving the elected parliament, arguing that in light of the political situation at the time it should have postponed cases related to parliament along with other politically charged cases.  

The general assembly of the HCC in response condemned Mekki's statements implying their verdict was "politically motivated." In its statement, the HCC described his criticism as "unacceptable interference" in the court's work, insisting that all the court's verdicts were based on constitutional legitimacy, refuting claims they were politically biased.

The SAC in issuing its verdict Saturday also confirmed that the HCC was the body with the final say on the matter. The SAC stated that only the HCC has the authority to decide whether the People's Assembly should be dissolved or not on the basis of the constitutionality of the elections law that governed prior polling.   

Earlier on Saturday Muslim Brotherhood lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsoud expressed his lack of hope that the dissolved People's Assembly could be reinstated after the SAC adjourned the parallel case to mid-October.

The latest constitutional addendum dictates that new parliamentary elections should follow the approval of a new constitution by two months. Around 70 per cent of the constitution is reported to be in final draft form, with progress being made on the remainder. Some expect to see a full draft sometime in October.

Leading Brotherhood members also made earlier statements indicating that in the case that the People's Assembly was not reinstated and new elections take place, the FJP — the political arm of the Brotherhood — will run for 100 per cent of available parliamentary seats.

Other similar controversial cases still awaiting the court's final verdict include the case against the constitutionality of the Shura Council (parliament's upper house) and a similar case against the Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting Egypt's new constitution, which was chosen by the dissolved People's Assembly.

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