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A court suspended the presidential election scheduled to take place in two weeks in a decision Wednesday evening, saying that the bylaw issued by the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC) that calls on voters to go to the polls on 23–24 May is illegal, state-run news agency MENA reported.
Benha Administrative Court in Qalyubiya Governorate said that the commission is not entitled to tell voters to go to the polls since the president, currently Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, is the only one who has the right to do so.
The PEC issued Bylaw 5/2012 on 7 March calling on voters to go to the polls and setting the dates for the elections and the run-offs.
The court said the first round should not go ahead as planned, saying the law regulating the presidential election did not give the PEC the power to call for the vote.
According to MENA, Judge Hatem Amer stopped the execution of Bylaw 5/2012.
The decision will be appealed in Cairo Thursday. It is expected to be overruled, according to a judicial source speaking to AFP. The source added that Tantawi, Egypt’s de facto president, delegated his powers to PEC chief Farouk Sultan.
Earlier, the website of state-run daily Al-Ahram reported that the court halted the presidential election, citing doubts over the constitutionality of a law banning Mubarak regime figures from participating in political life.
But the website of independent daily Al-Watan quoted an “informed source” as saying that the administrative court hadn’t issued any decision to suspend the election or to transfer the law to the Supreme Constitutional Court for consideration.
In its Wednesday ruling, Benha Administrative Court allowed lawyer Wael Bahgat to file an appeal before the Supreme Constitutional Court, which will rule on the constitutionality of Article 1 of Law 17/2012, which bans figures of the Mubarak regime from holding high public office.
Law 17/2012 bars certain officials — those who served as president, vice president or prime minister in 10 years prior to former President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster on 11 February 2011 — from serving in high positions in government. It also applies to anyone who served in top posts in the now-dissolved National Democratic Party.