The New York Times reports: Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that the Islamist-led Parliament must be immediately dissolved, while also blessing the right of Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister to run for president, escalating a battle for power between the remnants of the toppled order and rising Islamists.
The high court, packed with sympathizers of the ousted president, appeared to be engaged in a frontal legal assault on the Muslim Brotherhood, the once-outlawed organization whose members swept to power in Parliament this spring and whose candidate was the front-runner for the presidency as well. The presidential election runoff is scheduled to go ahead Saturday and Sunday.
“Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup,” Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, wrote in an online commentary. “We’d be outraged if we weren’t so exhausted.”The ruling means that whoever emerges as the winner of the runoff will take power without the check of a sitting Parliament and could even exercise some influence over the election of a future Parliament. It vastly compounds the stakes in the presidential race, raises questions about the governing military council’s commitment to democracy, and makes uncertain the future of a constitutional assembly recently formed by Parliament as well.
The decision, which dissolves the first freely elected Parliament in Egypt in decades, supercharges a building conflict between the court, which is increasingly presenting itself as a check on Islamists’ power, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The ruling, by the highest judicial authority in Egypt, cannot be appealed and it was not clear how the military council, which has been governing Egypt since Mr. Mubarak’s downfall in February 2011, would respond. But in anticipation that the court’s ruling could anger citizens, the military authorities reimposed martial law on Wednesday.