Egypt court says whole parliament unconstitutional, orders dissolution


Egypt constitutional court on Thursday ruled the whole Islamist-dominated parliament illegitimate, the official MENA news agency reported.

“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 news agency said.

The explanation was confirmed to The Associated Press by one of the court’s judges, Maher Sami Youssef. The ruling means that new elections for the entire parliament will have to be held.

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 powers.

“We don’t want it (the power) but according to the court decision and that law, it reverts back to us,” the source said, according to AFP.

Meanwhile, the head of the constitutional court Farouk Sultan told Reuters by telephone that the ruling means that the whole of the lower house of Egypt’s parliament (People’s Assembly) will be dissolved and a new election will have to be held.

“The ruling regarding parliament includes the dissolution of the lower house of parliament in its entirety because the law upon which the elections were held is contrary to rules of the constitution,” he said after the ruling was issued.

Speaking two days before another election to pick a new president, Sultan said the ruling was binding on all institutions of state, adding that it would be up to the executive to call for the new election that he said would take place.

A complete coup

Rulings by Egypt’s constitutional court that dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament and allow Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister to continue in the presidential race amount to “a complete coup,” a former presidential candidate said on Thursday.

In a statement on his Facebook page, Abdul Moniem Abul Fotouh said that a government decree issued on Wednesday granting military police and intelligence services the power to detain civilians was part of the same action.

“Keeping the military candidate (in the race) and overturning the elected parliament after granting the military police the right to arrest is a complete coup and whoever thinks that millions of youth will let it pass is deluding themselves,” he said.

He was referring to Ahmed Shafiq, the former prime minister who was once head of the air force. Shafiq’s right to run for president had been contested by a law passed by parliament which the court declared on Thursday as unconstitutional.

Dictatorship authorities

Meanwhile, former chief of the U.N. nuclear watchdog Mohammed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account that electing a president in the absence of a constitution and a parliament will bring a president with utmost dictatorship authorities.

ElBaradei called for a presidential council, as a first option, to be responsible for setting up the constitutional assembly and to monitor new parliamentary and presidential elections after writing the new constitution.

ElBaradei gave a second option which is choosing an interim president and forming a national salvation government, to be followed by the parliamentary and presidential elections after writing the constitution.

Dark tunnel

A senior Muslim Brotherhood politician said Egypt would enter “a dark tunnel” if the Islamist-dominated parliament was dissolved as required by a ruling from the constitutional court on Thursday.

“If parliament is dissolved, the country will enter a dark tunnel -- the coming president will face neither a parliament nor a constitution,” Erian told Reuters by telephone. “There is a state of confusion and many questions.”

Another senior leader of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm in Egypt said the court’s ruling that parliament was unconstitutional was a “military coup,” in a statement on his Facebook page.

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 honorable period in this nation’s history,” said Mohammed al-Beltagui.

Beltagui is a senior lawmaker with the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, which dominates the parliament that the constitutional court ruled was illegitimate.

(Additional writing and translation by Abeer Tayel)