Egypt's highest court says legislature was illegally elected

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 June, 2013, 4:53am


Egypt's highest court yesterday invalidated the senate and a panel that drafted the constitution, undermining the Islamists' legitimacy in state institutions and throwing the country into fresh political uncertainty.

The Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) said the law governing the elections of the Shura Council was unconstitutional, as were the rules for the selection of the members of a committee that drafted the constitution.

Presiding judge Maher al-Beheiry said the Shura Council should remain in place until the election of a new parliament.

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

The constitution will remain in place because it was adopted by a popular referendum, although the voter turnout was low. Its text was criticised by opponents of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi who claimed it stifled freedoms and did not represent all Egyptians.

Yesterday's ruling casts a dark shadow over the legitimacy of the Shura Council and the constitutional panel - both dominated by Islamists - which were touted by Mursi as shining examples of Egypt's new democracy.

Politicians who had boycotted the constitutional panel say they now feel vindicated by the court's ruling.

Leading opposition figure and former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei tweeted: "Back to square one: Shura council and constituent assembly declared unconstitutional. Consensus on new constitutional framework [is the] only way out."