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Legality of Egypt’s political isolation law questionable, say experts

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Egypt’s political isolation law, which aims at depriving senior officials of the former regime of occupying political posts, has for long been a source of controversy not only because it returned Mubarak’s minister and premier Ahmed Shafiq to the presidential race, but also questions surrounding its legality.

“The political isolation law is rife with constitutional problems and that is why when the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) referred it to the Supreme Constitutional Court, Ahmed Shafiq was back in the race,” Shawki al-Sayed, professor of law and constitutional expert, told Al Arabiya.

Sayed refuted claims that the PEC was biased in its decision to bring Shafiq back.

“The commission is made up of Egypt’s most prominent and professional judges and the reasons they gave for such a decision were legal and valid,” he said.

Sayed argued that objections about Shafiq’s return were mainly voiced by the Muslim Brotherhood because it conflicts with their interests.

“The Muslim Brotherhood insists on monopolizing power and controlling all state institutions as well as having the upper hand in drafting the constitution,” Sayed said.

Some believe the presidential elections should have been put on hold until a final decision is reached about the political isolation law, says law professor and constitutional expert Mohamed Nour Farahat,

“The commission insisted on going ahead with the elections despite the ongoing debate about the law, thus risking the invalidation of the entire process,” he told Al Arabiya.

Regarding the powers of the upcoming president, Farahat said they will be the same as those of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Egypt’s de facto ruler.

“The legislative power will remain with the parliament which only SCAF can dissolve according to the constitutional declaration,” said Farahat.

Spokesman of the leftist Tagammu Party Nabil Zaki said the Egyptian people have to accept the results of presidential elections regardless of who becomes president.

“We accepted the results of parliamentary elections and we have to do the same with presidential elections.”

Zaki objected to calls for popular protests in case the results are not satisfactory because, according to him, it will be impossible to reproduce Mubarak’s regime.

“I am also against calling Shafik’s supporters remnants of the former regime because we have to respect their choices and we should do the same with those who voted for Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Morsi.”

Zaki explained that those who voted for Shafiq did so because they believed he will restore security and stability. This, he said, appeals to many average citizens.

Zaki added that his party will never support the Muslim Brotherhood candidate under any circumstances.

On the other hand, Farid Ismail, member of the executive bureau of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, warned of the consequences of voting for a member of Mubarak’s regime.

“Political factions need to be aware of the danger of having a remnant of the former regime as president and to realize how hazardous this is for the revolution,” he told Al Arabiya.

Ismail called upon all the powers that believe in the revolution to unite and vote for the Brotherhood candidate and to discard all the accusations hurled against the group and its party.

“The Muslim Brotherhood has a national project that will achieve the goals of the revolution and the development of society,” Ismail said.

Ismail stressed that the Brotherhood’s project involves the establishment of a civil state with an Islamic framework.


(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)