Egypt's HCC deems 4 articles of parliament elections law unconstitutional

El-Sayed Gameledine, Saturday 25 May 2013

Egypt's electoral law to be again amended after High Constitutional Court rejects four of its articles

Electoral workers count votes after voting closed, at a counting center during the parliamentary election in Cairo(Photo: Reuters)

Egypt’s High Constitutional Court (HCC) declared Saturday there are four articles in the parliamentary elections law that are unconstitutional, in addition to another nine in the law regulating political rights.

An informed judicial source told Ahram Online that it is expected that the laws be referred to the Shura Council for amendment.

The division of parliamentary seats between different governorates as stated in the parliamentary elections law, the court said, does not correlate with population density, contradicting to the right to fair and equal representation guaranteed by the constitution.

The law also does not ban the use of religious slogans or symbols in election campaigning, contrary to what is stated in the constitution.

Further, the electoral law gives the president the right to decide the timing and duration of elections, which is also unconstitutional, the court added.

Regarding the law regulating political rights, the HCC found unconstitutional that police and army members are not given the right to vote. The court also objected to the fact that the Supreme Electoral Commission, the body tasked with supervising elections, is not given the right to monitor the use of private media.      

On 18 February, the HCC rejected five of the electoral law's articles. The law was referred back to the Shura Council, which partially amended the law without referring it back to the HCC for final approval.

An administrative court ruling said the Shura Council should have referred the electoral law back to the HCC before ratifying it, so as to ensure the amendments were constitutional.

Later on 6 March, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) overturned a presidential decree calling for elections to begin on 22 April, questioning the constitutionality of the electoral law that would govern the elections.

On 13 March, the Egyptian State Lawsuit Authority (ESLA), on behalf of the Egyptian president, the justice minister and the head of the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament that temporarily holds legislative powers, appealed SAC’s ruling suspending the elections.

However, on 24 March, Egypt’s Office of State Commissioners, a judicial body responsible for issuing non-binding recommendations to the courts, called for appeals against the suspension of the elections to be rejected.

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