An Egyptian court revoked late Tuesday a previous court ruling that permitted former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq to run for president in the forthcoming presidential elections.
Two weeks ago, Egypt’s Presidential Elections Commission had reinstated Shafiq as a candidate in the presidential race after he was barred under a law that prevents senior officials from the era of ousted president Hosni Mubarak from standing. However, the commission later upheld Shafiq’s appeal.
In his appeal Shafiq challenged the measure’s constitutionality. Shafiq was the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, who was forced to step down by popular protests in February 2011.
The law under which Shafiq was originally disqualified bars from the presidency anyone who served in senior positions in government and the former ruling National Democratic Party under Mubarak.
The law had been rushed through the Islamist-dominated parliament and ratified by the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).
The first round of voting is scheduled on May 23 and 24, after which there is expected to be a run-off between the top two candidates in June.
The ruling SCAF, which assumed presidential powers after Mubarak was toppled, is due to hand over power to the new president on July 1.
Earlier on Tuesday, Presidential Election Commission Chairman Farouk Sultan said the election will be held on time, Egypt’s daily al-Masry al-Youm reported.
The commission postponed on Monday a meeting with the presidential candidates that was slated for Tuesday citing “insults” by the Parliament to its judges. It also demanded the SCAF intervene to help it fulfill its duties.
“The intervention of the military council, as an arbiter between authorities, was for the commission to carry on with the work it has started,” Sultan explained.
Officials within the commission said it is awaiting the decision of the military council.
However, Judge Mohammed Momtaz was quoted by al-Masry al-Youm as saying that the Commission would continue its work and added that news about the Commission halting its work were bad reported.
“Reporters relied on interpretations of the Commission’s statement,” Momtaz said.
Presidential candidates on Tuesday criticized the decision by the Commission to suspend its work, Reuters reported.
“Democracy has to be protected,” Amr Moussa, a former Arab League chief who is a front-runner in the race, said in a statement, voicing surprise at the decision and calling on the army council to prevent any “ominous repercussions.”
Another front-runner, Abdul Moniem Abul Fotouh, a former member of the Muslim Brotherhood who has secured the backing of hardline Salafi Muslim groups, said the Commission’s reaction to the debate was “stunning.”
Leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahy also criticized the decision as “unacceptable”. “National interests must be put above any other considerations,” Sabahy said.
One group of activists, the Revolutionary Front For Change, described the move as a “plot” to undermine the transition, saying the reasons provided by the election committee for the suspension had no legal basis and were “childish.”
(Translation and writing by Abeer Tayel)