News24

Egypt: Third of parliament seats invalid

2012-06-14 16:39

Cairo - Egypt's constitutional court ruled on Thursday that a third of the seats in the Islamist-dominated parliament were invalid, stirring fresh uncertainty in the politically divided country.

"The constitutional court ruled unconstitutional some articles of the parliamentary election law related to the direct vote system," Egypt's official news agency Mena reported, referring to the third of seats elected on a first-past-the-post system.

The ruling military decided on a complex electoral system in which voters cast ballots for party lists which made up two thirds of parliament and also for individual candidates for the remaining seats in the lower house.

The individual candidates were meant to be "independents" but members of political parties were subsequently allowed to run, giving the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party an advantage.

That decision was challenged in court.

Legitimacy questioned

The ruling will cast all of parliament's legitimacy into question just two days ahead of a presidential vote between Mohammed Morsi, an Islamist who heads the largest party in parliament, and his bitter rival Ahmed Shafiq, ousted president Hosni Mubarak's last premier.

Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, an Islamist, had said before the ruling that the house would have to consider how to implement it.

In the absence of a constitution, suspended after Mubarak's overthrow in February last year, no authority had the right to dissolve parliament, Katatni said.

He said one possibility would be to hold by-elections for the seats ruled unconstitutional.

Mahmud al-Khodeiri, a senior lawmaker and former judge who won his seat with support from the Muslim Brotherhood, said by-elections were likely to be held for some of the seats.

"There will be a re-election for some of the seats," he said after the ruling, referring to seats won by candidates belonging to parties.

He said no one authority had the right to dissolve parliament at the moment but elections could take place "after there is a new president."