Former members of Hosni Mubarak's political party won legal backing Monday to run in Egypt's first parliamentary elections since the ouster of the longtime leader.
The Supreme Administrative Court overturned a ruling that had barred members of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party from contesting the election in one province. Monday's ruling applies nationwide and cannot be appealed.
The decision went against the wishes of many segments of the protest movement that took part in Egypt's uprising, including Islamists, liberals and secular youth groups. However, there was little immediate reaction from those groups, which still have hope that a promised law will weed out some ex-regime figures found to have been involved in corruption.
In explaining its decision, the court said it could not deprive citizens of their constitutional right to participate in political life without such a law.
The same court earlier this year ordered the NDP to be dissolved after the uprising that ousted Mubarak in February, but it said Monday that that decision did not mean its members could be barred from elections.
Egypt's interim government has promised to issue an anti-graft law to blacklist ex-Mubarak regime members from political life if they are proven to have been involved in corruption.
Egypt's parliamentary elections begin Nov. 28 and will be held in stages. The new parliament is due to convene in January.
Mubarak's party had an estimated 3 million members. After the NDP was dissolved, some of them joined newly formed parties now fielding candidates for parliament, but most of those running are doing so as independents and enjoy strong local backing from large family and tribal connections.
Their opponents, however, had successfully campaigned for election rules limiting the number of parliament seats up for grabs for independents. Those allotments were reduced from half to one-third of the seats.
The drive to bar those associated with the former regime from running was led by the Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest opposition group during Mubarak's three decades in power.
Youth groups have also been campaigning against regime remnants, known as "feloul" in Arabic, by printing stickers that say "No to feloul" and setting up pages on social networking sites like Facebook with lists naming former NDP members.
Mubarak's ruling party swept successive parliamentary elections for nearly 30 years through blatant vote-rigging and fraud. The NDP took nearly 90 percent of parliament seats in the last elections, in November 2010, two months before the start of the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down and hand power to a military council.