Egypt Court Rules to Halt Parliamentary Election Process

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Published Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Egypt's Administrative Court issued a ruling on Tuesday that effectively halts the March/April parliamentary election process, judicial sources said.

The state-run Al-Ahram news portal confirmed the Administrative Court's ruling.

"The Administrative Court ruled ... halting the execution of the measures taken by the High Election Committee based on the ruling of the Constitutional Court," a judicial source said, citing the ruling.

The Supreme Constitutional Court on Sunday found part of an election law that has to do with defining voting districts unconstitutional.

It was not immediately clear how long the process would be pushed back. The first phase of the election was due to start on March 22.

The election is the final step in a political road map that the army announced in July 2013.

Egypt has been without a parliament since June 2012, when a court dissolved the democratically elected main chamber, reversing a major accomplishment of the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian new leaders say the election shows their commitment to democracy but critics say President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who as army chief toppled former President Mohammed Mursi, has undermined freedoms gained after the uprising that ended Mubarak's 30-year rule.

In November, Sisi said that Egypt's parliamentary elections would be held before the end of March 2015.

In the absence of parliament, Sisi has wielded legislative authority to introduce economic reforms that have impressed investors, while also curtailing political freedoms.

Egypt in recent months has been cracking down on militants said to be based in Sinai.

Meanwhile, on Monday two people were killed and nine wounded, including seven policemen, in a bomb explosion outside the Egyptian supreme court in Cairo, the health ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Hossam Abdel Ghaffar said that a 22-year-old man "died of injuries sustained in his backbone" in the attack.

Another man, aged 24, who had suffered head injuries and internal bleeding, also died of his wounds, he said.

Hospital officials earlier said that a man was in critical condition as the blast blew away part of his skull and brain.

Ghaffar said nine people, including seven policemen, were wounded in the attack.

The explosion appeared to be aimed at a police checkpoint near the court, a hospital official said.

Two other minor bombs were set off in Cairo several hours later on Monday, one outside a fire station and another in front of a police station, but there were no casualties, the Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page.

The latest attacks came a day after two civilians died in a bombing outside a police station in southern Egypt.

Militants have regularly set off bombs in the capital, mostly targeting police, since the 2013 military overthrow of Mursi unleashed a deadly crackdown on his supporters.

Militant groups claim their attacks are in retaliation for a government crackdown targeting Muslim Brotherhood supporters that has left hundreds dead and thousands jailed.

The Brotherhood says it is a peaceful movement and has repeatedly denounced attacks on police and security forces.

The military crackdown after Mursi’s ouster has killed more than 1,400 people, most of them within hours when police broke up two pro-Mursi camps in Cairo during the summer of 2013.

More than 15,000 Mursi supporters are also imprisoned, while dozens have been sentenced to death after speedy trials which the United Nations has denounced as "unprecedented in recent history."

Mursi and many top leaders of his now-banned Muslim Brotherhood are themselves in jail and on trial in cases in which they face the death penalty if convicted.

Besides Islamists, many of the leading secular activists behind the 2011 uprising have also found themselves on the wrong side of the new political leadership, getting locked up for taking part in peaceful demonstrations following a ban on unlicensed protests.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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