Egypt’s highest court has ordered the country’s Islamist-dominated lower house of parliament dissolved, saying its election about six months ago was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that a third of the legislature was elected illegally. As a result, it says in its explanation of the ruling, “the makeup of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it does not legally stand.” The ruling means that new elections for the entire parliament will have to be held.
The ruling, which means power will remain in the hands of the generals of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), was bitterly condemned. Islamist politicians who had gained most from Mubarak’s overthrow have decried what they called a “coup” by an army-led establishment still filled with Mubarak-era officials, and vowed to return to the streets in protests.
In a separate ruling, the court said Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, could stay in the presidential race, rejecting a law passed by parliament last month that barred prominent figures from the old regime from running for office.
Shafiq will compete on Saturday and Sunday in a runoff against Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s strongest political group.
In response to the dissolution of the Egyptian parliament, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the US expects Egypt’s military authority to fully transfer power to a democratically elected civilian government. “There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people,” Clinton told reporters, declining to specifically comment on an Egyptian court ruling.