Egypt's fragile democracy in crisis as court dissolves parliament



Egypt's generals were poised to seize complete political control over the country last night after a court ruled that the parliament elected only six months ago was illegal and must be dissolved.

The decision – which has left Egypt's political transition in chaos – means that an entirely new round of elections will have to be held, and threatens to unleash another wave of political upheaval just days before the presidential run-off vote, which begins on Saturday.

Legal analysts said the ruling military council, which had promised to hand over power in June, would now assume the role of the parliament. Explaining its announcement, the Supreme Constitutional Court said that a third of Egypt's legislature had been elected unlawfully in the ballot which began last December.

"The make-up of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it does not stand," stated the ruling, according to the state news agency. In a separate ruling, the same court also declared that Ahmed Shafik, the former air force chief who once counted Hosni Mubarak as one of his friends, should not be disqualified from Sunday's presidential vote – a blow to activists, who fear that Mr Shafik will spearhead a "counter-revolution" to reverse the gains of last year's uprising.

The decision overturned a law passed by parliament in April banning former regime officials from the presidency. It leaves Mr Shafik free to run against the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi in Saturday and Sunday's poll.

Yesterday's rulings left many anti-government activists dumbfounded. There were clashes outside the court following the decision, where scores of police and troops backed by armoured cars stood guard in front of several hundred protesters.

"Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup," tweeted Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "We'd be outraged if we weren't so exhausted."

Mavie Maher, an official working for the defeated leftist presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, told The Independent she felt Egypt had gone "back 10 years". She accused the military council of using Egypt's legal process to score a political victory against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Analysts have suggested that the Brotherhood – which controls nearly half the seats in parliament – has been haemorrhaging political support due to the lacklustre performance of its MPs.

Its overall share of the vote in the recent presidential elections, when Mr Morsi polled just under 25 per cent, was far lower than during the parliamentary elections – an indication, say some, of a significant decline in its popularity.

"The military council is playing with the law for its political interest," said Ms Maher. "In the next election the Muslim Brotherhood won't get the same percentage of seats."

Koert Debeuf, a representative for the European Parliament's liberal bloc in Cairo, said that yesterday's ruling was "a way of killing the Muslim Brotherhood". "Ever since the time of Nasser, what the old regime has hated most is the Muslim Brotherhood," he said.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam