Egypt Administrative Court decision threatens to disqualify Shafiq again

Zeinab El Gundy, Wednesday 9 May 2012

Administrative Court, late Tuesday night, refutes presidential electoral commission's ruling to refer Disenfranchisement Law, banning Mubarak-ministers from holding political office, to the Constitutional Court

Presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik (Photo: Reuters)

The High Administrative Court declared late Tuesday that the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) has no legal right to refer the Disenfranchisement Law, which puts a 10-year ban on those who were recently part of Mubarak's government from holding political office, to the Constitutional Court.

According to the Administrative Court's statement, the mandate of SPEC, the body tasked with managing the elections process, does not include the power to question the constitutionality of legislation.

The Administrative Court's statement comes despite the fact that the Constitutional Court on 25 April agreed that it would look into the constitutionality of the Disenfranchisement Law.

The widely criticised elections commission has yet to react to Tuesday's late night verdict.

If the Administrative Court's decision is accepted, this could mean that the legislation, which would see Mubarak top officials such as former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq forbidden from running for president, is enforced.

The former aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq was disqualified from Egypt's presidential elections on 26 April, when the Disenfranchisement Law was passed by Parliament and approved by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

However, a day later Shafiq presented a petition to the SPEC that was accepted and so rejoined the presidential race, despite the fact that the law was still technically in place.

The SPEC chose not to abide by the legislation and to accept Shafiq's petition, because, SPEC member Hatem Begatu explained, there was a strong likelihood that the Disenfranchisement Law would be considered unconstitutional.  It is worth noting that the head of the SPEC, according to presidential law, is also the head of the Constitutional Court.  

If the law was considered unconstitutional, and Shafiq, who would therefore be a legal candidate, had already been banned from running, this could question the legality of the presidential elections as whole, which Begatu explained, the elections commission wished to avoid.

The Shafiq campaign's media coordinator, Ahmed Serhan, assured the public via his official Twitter account late Tuesday, that he would continue to run for president, as his legal position is solid.  

Serhan also added the presidential elections commission’s decision cannot be overturned or appealed according to Article 28 of the SCAF-authored Presidential Elections Law that gives the SPEC’s decisions immunity against appeals and petitions.

Shafiq is currently the third most popular presidential candidate, according to three recent polls.

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