CAIRO — Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court froze Tuesday a presidential decree reinstating the Islamist-led parliament, hours after the lower house convened in defiance of the judiciary and military.
The top court’s decision is expected to heighten a crisis that has raged since President Mohamed Morsy, a former member of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, issued the decree Sunday just eight days after taking office.
“The court ordered the freeze of the president’s decree,” a judicial source said, adding that it “ordered that its previous ruling be implemented.”
Last month, the court ruled that certain articles in the law governing parliamentary elections were invalid, annulling the People’s Assembly, or lower house.
The powerful Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which ruled after Hosni Mubarak was ousted in last year’s popular uprising, then dissolved the house. But on Sunday Morsy ordered the lower house to reconvene, highlighting the power struggle between the president, the top court and the SCAF.
Taking its cue from Morsy the People’s Assembly convened Tuesday. “We are gathered today to review the court rulings, the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court,” Speaker Saad Al-Katatni said.
“I want to stress, we are not contradicting the ruling, but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today,” he added.
Lawyers representing Morsy criticized the court’s latest decision and said Tuesday’s ruling was a political move that would further complicate the crisis.
“This ruling is null and void,” lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told reporters while another member of the team, Mamduh Ismail, called it a “political decision.”
Meanwhile, thousands of protesters rallied Tuesday evening in Tahrir Square, hub of the revolution, in support of Morsy and chanting “Down with the military” and other slogans hostile to judges.
Earlier in the day opponents of Morsy’s decree protested outside the presidential palace.
Katatni said parliament had referred the case invalidating the house to the Court of Cassation.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is due to visit Cairo Saturday, urged all parties to engage in dialogue.
“We urge that there be intensive dialogue among all of the stakeholders in order to ensure that there is clear path for them to be following,” she said in Vienna.
The Egyptian people should “get what they protested for and what they voted for, which is a fully elected government making the decisions for the country going forward,” she added. — AFP