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With a standoff between the military council and the newly elected president regarding the fate of the Parliament, the Supreme Constitutional Court joined in on Tuesday, adding one more player to the power struggle currently gripping the nation.
State-run daily Al-Ahram reports Wednesday that the country’s highest court halted President Mohamed Morsy's decision to reconvene the lower house of Parliament and decreed that its initial ruling be executed as issued. The military council disbanded the People's Assembly last month after the court ruled that the election of a third of MPs was unconstitutional due to a provision in the electoral law.
The court said in its Tuesday ruling that the interpretations of its decisions are binding for all state institutions, according to Al-Ahram. Parliament was elected based on unconstitutional laws and is therefore illegitimate, which necessitates its disbandment by law, with no need for any additional decisions, the state's flagship newspaper reports the court as saying. The court considers the president’s decision an obstacle to the execution of its ruling and consequently issued the decision to halt it, according to Al-Ahram.
Liberal Al-Wafd newspaper, in line with its party’s opposition to Morsy’s decision, leads with, “The constitutional court slaps Morsy back.” The paper quotes a constitutional expert saying that the court’s decision is final, cannot be appealed and returns legislative authority to the military council.
Freedom and Justice, the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood, responded by casting doubt over the court’s original ruling against the Parliament. The paper announces that FJP lawyer Mokhtar al-Ashry will challenge the court’s decision, alleging that the ruling was published in the Egyptian Gazette, the official publication listing new laws and government decisions, prior to its announcement in court.
The paper also referred to a 1990 Supreme Constitutional Court ruling to justify Morsy’s decision to go against the recent verdict. The 1990 ruling stated, according to the paper, that the president’s decisions are sovereign and outside of the court’s jurisdiction.
The paper quotes the presidency, which has declined to comment to other papers, denouncing judiciary interference in its work.
The FJP also overplays a demonstration organized by the party in Tahrir Square on Tuesday to support the president’s decision to reinstate Parliament. The protest was too small to make it on most front pages, but the FJP described it as “a million-man protest in Tahrir, the uprising of the people to support the president.”
Before the late-evening court ruling, Parliament held a brief session in the absence of many liberal and independent candidates who were boycotting Morsy's decision.
According to independent newspaper Al-Shorouk, Parliament Speaker Saad al-Katatny used the 13-minute long session to refer the ruling to an appeals court to decide on the fate of the Parliament.
In other news, privately owned Al-Watan reports that the Constituent Assembly debate regarding constitution Article 2 is nearing an end as an assembly committee has finally agreed on a phrasing stipulating the “principles of the Islamic Sharia” as the main source of Egypt's legislation.
Emad al-Din Hussein writes in his Al-Shorouk column that the reason for the “security, legal and political maze” that’s engulfing the whole country is the faulty road map adopted at the start of the transition period.
Hussein speculates that Morsy’s decision to reinstate the lower house could be an attempt to prove that he has the power to stand up to the military council, or part of a plan to take over legislative power.
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run
Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned
Al-Watan: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Youm7: Daily, privately owned
Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned
Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party
Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party
Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party