Mursi’s party readies to ‘limit’ constitutional court’s powers

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The ruling Freedom and Justice party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, is getting ready to “limit” the constitutional court’s powers, vice president of FJP told London-based Al-Hayat newspaper in an interview published Monday.

Legal and constitution experts are currently examining measures to reduce “hurdles” imposed by the Supreme Constitutional Court, Essam El-Erian said.

His statement comes after SCC on Sunday ruled that the law governing the elections of the Islamist-dominated Shura Council was unconstitutional, as were the rules for the selection of the members of a committee that drafted the constitution.

Despite the ruling, the presidency said the Shura Council, which took a legislative role when parliament was dissolved, would maintain its powers until a new lower house is elected later this year.

Erian, however, didn’t disclose any further details on the proposed measures.

But a source from the Muslim Brotherhood told Al-Hayat that the expected changes would cancel SCC’s prior restraint when it comes to elections laws, and to embolden legislative institutions not to be dissolved again.

The source, who wished to be anonymous, didn’t want to comment on whether the proposed changes was in reaction to SCC allowing army and police members cast their vote. Islamists in Egypt are against allowing the army and the police to vote, saying it will jeopardize security especially that the military institution in Egypt has long been against Islamists.

More instability?

The SCC decision could, however, embolden the opposition ahead of mass anti-Mursi protests planned on June 30, when the president marks one year in power.

A crippling economic crisis and widespread insecurity since the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 have already weighed on the Islamists in power.

A petition seeking to withdraw confidence from Mursi, which the organizers claim has garnered several million signatures, has been circulating for several weeks.

While the decision does undermine the Islamists’ legitimacy in state institutions, on the ground the status quo remains.

“All sides will find what they want in this ruling,” the political analyst Hassan Nafea, a professor at Cairo University, told AFP.

The opposition will be encouraged by the ruling to continue attacking the Islamists’ grip on power, “but concretely it doesn’t change anything,” Nafea said.

Egypt’s independent daily Al-Tahrir summed up the impact of the judgment in its front-page headline: “Everything is invalidated, everything carries on.”

Both the upper and lower houses were elected under the same electoral law, which the SCC last year deemed invalid, prompting the dissolution of parliament.

But the presidency said the Shura Council will “maintain its full legislative role” and remain in place until a new house is elected.

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