Egypt's court says parliament is dissolved

By HAMZA HENDAWI
Associated Press
CAIRO
Egypt's highest court on Thursday ordered the country's Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved, saying its election about six months ago was unconstitutional.

The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that a third of the legislature was elected illegally. As a result, it says in its explanation of the ruling, "the makeup of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it does not legally stand."

The explanation was carried by Egypt's official news agency and confirmed to The Associated Press by one of the court's judges, Maher Sami Youssef. The ruling means that new elections for the entire parliament will have to be held.

The law governing the parliamentary elections, held over a three-month period starting in November, was ruled unconstitutional by a lower court because it breached the principle of equality when it allowed party members to contest a third of seats set aside for independents. The remaining two thirds were contested by party slates.

In a separate ruling, the court said Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, could stay in the presidential race, rejecting a law passed by parliament last month that barred prominent figures from the old regime from running for office.

Shafiq will go head-to-head on Saturday and Sunday in a runoff against Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's strongest political group.

The ruling said the legislation was not based on "objective grounds" and "constitutes a violation of the principle of equality," leading to discrimination on "illogical grounds."

The Brotherhood stands to lose the most by the rulings since it controls just under half of all seats in the legislature and is likely not to do as well in the next election. Its popularity has declined since the legislative election over its failure to translate its parliamentary domination into real political power and its perception as a power hungry group more preoccupied with its own interests than national ones.

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