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Egypt upper house ruled invalid

Egypt upper house ruled invalid
Highlights

Court also declares Constitution draft panel ultra vires House can be dissolved only after new elections Brotherhood and judiciary may be at...

  • Court also declares Constitution draft panel ultra vires
  • House can be dissolved only after new elections
  • Brotherhood and judiciary may be at loggerheads
Cairo (Agencies): Egypt's top court has ruled that the upper house, or Shura Council, and a panel that drafted the new Constitution are invalid. The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that the laws governing the election of members of the Islamist-dominated Shura Council and the constitutional panel were illegal. But the court said the Shura would only be dissolved after new elections. A date has yet to be set for the elections which President Mohamed Mursi said could begin in October.
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The ruling seemed likely to heighten tension between the Muslim Brotherhood and the judiciary over judicial reforms which the Islamists see as necessary to removing Hosni Mubarak-era appointees but judges see as a bid to purge their ranks. The court also ruled as illegal the body which drafted a constitution that was approved in a popular referendum in December. The implications of that ruling were not immediately clear. Some legal experts say that the constitution itself is above legal challenge because it was approved by a popular vote. The case against the upper house of parliament, brought by an independent member of parliament, follows a similar challenge that led to the dissolution of the Brotherhood-led lower house last year. The Supreme Constitutional Court had ruled that the electoral law under which both houses of parliament were elected was invalid, prompting its dissolution. The Shura Council was then given legislative powers by the constitutional panel. Islamist President Mohammed Morsi had established the 100-member constitutional panel to draw up the new document. The constitution was adopted by a nationwide vote in December. It was unclear what effect the ruling would have on the legitimacy of the constitution. Morsi's Freedom and Justice party, the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, holds 42% of the Shura Council's seats and can easily gain a majority with support from conservative allies. Opponents say the President has used the council to rush through an Islamist agenda and laws that have too many loopholes.
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