CAIRO, June 15, 2012 - On Thursday June 14th2012, the Egyptian Supreme Constitutional Court voted to dissolve Parliament and to allow former dictator Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, to remain in the presidential race against Mohamed Mursi the Muslim Brotherhood candidate.
Egypt also currently does not have a constitution.
Therefore, if elections take place on June 16th and 17th as scheduled, Egypt will have a president whose powers are not spelled out, and who will take office without the counter-balance of a parliament.
This situation may result in the military government appointing the next constitutional assembly which will draft a new constitution.
Outside the Supreme Constitutional Court, demonstrators protested against the decision to dissolve parliament. The number of protesters was small, but the traffic jam they caused lasted for several hours. The police and army forces were deployed to protect the court from the protestors, setting up barbed wire barricades and making it impossible for cars to go through. I happened to be there, driving my car through the blocked streets. Tahrir square and the down town Cairo were quiet for the rest of the day.
Some Egyptians are wondering if their revolution was hijacked and a phase of turmoil is going to start. Others believe that democracy is never an easy process and that justice will soon prevail. In order to have a fresh start for the democratisation process in Egypt, perhaps dissolving the parliament is the only solution. Over the last few months the parliament misused its legislative powers and was subject to severe criticism from a great majority of the Egyptians who were disappointed after a year after their revolution.
Egyptians were holding their breath waiting for the verdict, expecting that the court would find that some parts of the parliamentary elections were illegitimate. However, chief judge Farouk Sultan surprised everybody when he completely nullified the results and called for a new election. Earlier, Dr. Saad EL Katatny, the speaker of parliament, argued that no-one had the authority to dissolve the legislature.
The Supreme Court had been considering the validity of last year’s parliamentary elections because some of the seats were contested on a proportional list system, and the election law was contrary to the rules of the constitution. Many of the seats ruled unconstitutional were won by the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
Supporters of Shafik believe that if he wins the election, he can establish the rules for a civil state. They note he is a strong leader, and that the Islamists could form an viable opposition in a secular state.
Supporters of Mursi said that the verdict “didn’t turn out right. ” Although law experts admitted that the verdict had legitimacy from a legal standpoint, but the timing of the two rulings indicated they were politically motivated.
Egypt is going through a critical phase in its history with numerous crises, including electing a new president, the constitutional crisis and the economic crisis. Political analysts believe that the country could be heading to a political disaster.
The next test for democracy will be the upcoming presidential elections.
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