Mursi annuls Egypt parliament dissolution

CAIRO: Egypt’s new President Mohammad Mursi annulled the Supreme Court’s dissolution of the Islamist-dominated parliament Sunday, the official media said, setting the stage for a possible confrontation with the military.

“President Mursi has issued a presidential decree annulling the decision taken on June 15, 2012, to dissolve the people’s assembly, and invites the chamber to convene again and to exercise its prerogatives,” the MENA news agency said.

His move risks heightening tensions with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took over after the ouster last year of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak, after a popular revolt.

The news agency said the SCAF convened an “urgent meeting under the chairmanship of Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to discuss the presidential measures.”

MENA said Sunday’s decree stipulates “the organization of elections for the chamber, 60 days after the approval by referendum of the country’s new constitution and the adoption of a new law regulating parliament.”

No date has yet been set for the drafting of the post-Mubarak constitution. The 100-member commission tasked with drawing it up met for the first time on June 18 and appointed a respected judge, Hossam al-Ghariani, as its head.

The military dissolved parliament last month after Egypt’s top court made its controversial ruling, a day before the second round of the presidential poll that saw the Islamist Mursi become Egypt’s first democratically elected head of state.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, from which Mursi stood down after his election, at the time described the move as a “soft coup,” accusing the military of seeking to monopolize power and demanding a referendum.

The Supreme Constitutional Court had said certain articles in the law governing parliamentary polls were invalid, annulling the Islamist-led house.

It also ruled as unconstitutional the political isolation law, which sought to bar senior members of Mubarak’s regime and top members of his now-dissolved party from running for public office for 10 years.

Analysts said they had not expected an easy relationship between the army and the Islamist president, but believed Mursi would tread cautiously to avoid a confrontation.

“Everyone was expecting this to happen but not now, unless this decision was taken in agreement with the army council, but I doubt this,” said political analyst Mohammad Khalil of Sunday’s decree.

“This means he is taking legislative power from the army council and returning it to parliament. So maybe in this period he needs certain laws to empower the government or to implement the 100-day plan” for his first days in office, Khalil said.

The background to the decision was still not clear but the call for early elections could placate demands for a new parliament, he said.

“The military wanted to dissolve parliament and the Brotherhood doesn’t. There has to be somewhere they can meet in the middle or there will be an indefinite standoff and both sides will have to compromise,” said Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Doha Center.

“This could be a compromise arrangement for the short term, so the military gets part of what it wanted – a new parliament in coming months – and Islamists can avoid a situation where the military dominates a legislative authority,” he said.

In the absence of a parliament – in which nearly half of the seats had been won by the Muslim Brotherhood and another quarter by hard-line Salafists – the SCAF assumed legislative power.

Instead of being sworn in before parliament, the 60-year-old Mursi took the oath on June 30 before the constitutional court.

Mursi will head to Saudi Arabia Wednesday on his first foreign visit as Egypt’s head of state, the official MENA news agency said Saturday.

King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia “has invited President Mursi to visit Saudi Arabia to strengthen relations between both countries in all areas,” said Saudi Ambassador Ahmad Qattan, quoted by MENA, adding that Mursi would fly to Riyadh Wednesday.

It will be his first foreign trip since he was sworn in as president last week. U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Mursi at the U.N. General Assembly in New York in September, an official in Washington told AFP Sunday.

Read more:
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::

Categories: Africa, Egypt

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