‘Mubarak’s ex-PM can run in presidential polls’
Muslim Brotherhood slams verdict ‘military coup’
EGYPT is now in the centre of a fresh political and constitutional crisis as the nation’s top court yesterday cleared Ahmed Shafiq, last premier to ousted strongman, Hosni Mubarak, to run for president and ruled the Islamist-led parliament that sought to bar him illegal, just two days before a key election.
The decision handed legislative power back to the generals who took power when Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising early last year, a military source said.
“The Supreme Constitutional Court has ruled that the political isolation law is unconstitutional,” the state MENA news agency said.
But Mohammed al-Beltagi, a senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm in Egypt, yesterday said the court’s ruling that the parliament was unconstitutional was a “military coup,” in a statement on his Facebook page.
Al-Beltagi said a series of measures, including giving the military powers of arrests, and then the court ruling were “a complete coup through which the military council erases the most honourable period in this nation’s history.“
Beltagi is a senior lawmaker with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which dominates the parliament that the court ruled was illegitimate.
The court was examining the legality of the political isolation law, passed by parliament in April, which sought to bar senior officials of Mubarak’s regime and top members of his now-dissolved National Democratic Party from standing for public office for 10 years.
The law applies to those who served in the 10 years prior to Mubarak’s ouster on February 11, 2011 after an 18-day popular uprising.
The top court also ruled that articles in the law governing parliament were illegal.
“The constitutional court ruled unconstitutional some articles of the parliamentary election law related to the direct vote system,” MENA reported, referring to the third of seats elected on a first-past-the-post system.
“The constitutional court affirmed in the details of its verdict that the parliamentary elections were not constitutional, and the entire composition of parliament has been illegitimate since its election,” the official MENA news agency reported.
Members of the ruling military council were in a meeting and did not immediately issue a statement.
But a military source said the court decision gave the military legislative power.
“We don’t want it (the power) but according to the court decision and that law, it reverts back to us,” the source said.
The ruling military decided on a complex electoral system in which voters cast ballots for party lists which made up two thirds of parliament and also for individual candidates for the remaining seats in the lower house.
The individual candidates were meant to be “independents” but members of political parties were subsequently allowed to run, giving the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party an advantage.
That decision was challenged in court.
Mahmud al-Khodeiri, a senior lawmaker and former judge who won his seat with support from the Muslim Brotherhood, said by-elections were likely to be held for some of the seats.
“There will be a re-election for some of the seats,” he told AFP after the ruling, referring to seats won by candidates belonging to parties.