Egypt court to determine fate of parliamentary elections

AP News
Posted: Feb 25, 2015 10:57 AM
Egypt court to determine fate of parliamentary elections

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's highest court said Wednesday it will determine next week whether the laws regulating the country's parliamentary elections are constitutional — a decision that could further delay the vote scheduled for next month.

The elections are the last phase in Egypt's transitional plan, which was put into effect following the July 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi after mass protests against him.

Egypt has been without a parliament since 2012, when a court ordered the first democratically elected house dissolved, saying the law governing the balloting was unconstitutional and violated the principle of equality among candidates. At the time, dissolving the parliament was the first blow to Morsi's Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood group that dominated the lower house.

The 2015 elections have already been mired in controversy. The Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist organization following Morsi's ouster and is not taking part in the vote. Islamists in general have been reeling under a security crackdown with most of their leaders and many supporters behind bars.

Lawyers and political parties are also challenging the current law governing elections, arguing that the way the districts have been drawn up does not represent voters fairly. Others claimed the law discriminates between male and female candidates.

Various political parties have criticized it as serving businessmen and lawmakers from the era of longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak who are hoping for a comeback. Several liberal and leftist parties, formed after Mubarak's ouster in 2011 also declared they will not run in the elections.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Constitutional Court heard arguments from lawyers contesting the constitutional basis of the election laws. In the partially televised session, one lawyer said the laws go against the nation's aspirations to democratic elections.

"We tell your excellencies, save the nation. We don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past," he said.

Judge Anwar Rashad al-Assi said the court would give its ruling on Sunday. If it finds the laws unconstitutional, the country's administrative court is to decide on postponing them.

The parliament elections are to start on March 21, with phases running until May 7.