Leading FJP figure calls for 'purge' of Egypt's 'Mubarak-era' judiciary

Ahmed Eleiba, Tuesday 21 May 2013

Speaking in Doha, leading member of Islamist Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), says Egypt's judiciary played 'integral' role in sustaining Mubarak's police state, calls for 'purge' of Mubarak-era judges

Egypt's currently judiciary was an integral part of the former Mubarak regime, aiding in the passage of authoritarian legislation, Waleed El-Hadad, leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), said on Tuesday.

"A large percentage of the judiciary must be purged," El-Hadad, head of the FJP's foreign affairs department, declared at the Doha Forum in Qatar.

He went on to criticise last year's dissolution of Egypt's People's Assembly (the lower house of parliament, currently known as the House of Representatives), a move that he blamed on Egypt's Mubarak-era judiciary.

"How can the People's Assembly, which was freely elected by 35 million citizens, be dissolved by a judicial body consisting of only 19 individuals," El-Hadad said.

The People's Assembly was dissolved last summer by order of Egypt's then-ruling Supreme Military Council after the High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruled the law regulating parliamentary polls unconstitutional.

Egypt's Shura Council, the upper house of parliament, currently holds legislative authority pending the election of a new House of Representatives. The Shura Council is now at loggerheads with the judiciary.

The dispute began earlier this year when Shura Council MPs representing the moderate-Islamist Wasat Party – a breakaway party from the Muslim Brotherhood – introduced draft legislation that has been fiercely opposed by many Egyptian judges.

The bill reduces the retirement age for judges from 70 to 60, which would see about one quarter of Egypt's 13,000 serving judges pensioned off.

Opponents describe the law as a 'massacre' of the judiciary to the benefit of the Muslim Brotherhood, which they accuse of wanting to appoint pro-Brotherhood judges. The law's proponents, meanwhile, argue the move is necessary to 'purge' Egypt's judiciary of Mubarak-appointed judicial officials.

The deadlock appeared to have been broken after agreement was reached between the administration of President Mohamed Morsi – which supports the bill – and judicial representatives to hold a conference to discuss judicial reform, before moving ahead with any legislative changes.

Following a few days of calm after the agreement, however, the saga again took a turn for the worse when the Shura Council announced last week that it would discuss the disputed law on 25 May.

Egypt's Judges Club had earlier set conditions for taking part in the conference, chief among which was that the Shura Council not be allowed to pass legislation relating to Egypt's judiciary.

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