The Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt has announced that Egypt’s lower house of parliament must be dissolved following a court verdict which determined a hastily considered election law was illegal.
The court ruling means new elections will have to be held.
“The ruling regarding parliament includes the dissolution of the lower house of parliament in its entirety because the law upon which the elections were held is contrary to rules of the constitution,” the court’s head Farouk Soltan told Reuters by phone on Thursday following the verdict.
By moving to dissolve the Islamist-dominated parliament, Thursday’s decision is being seen as a non-violent coup by the ruling military junta.
The verdict sparked minor clashes outside of the court house, which was surrounded by a cordon of police and soldiers backed by armored vehicles.
The country’s Supreme Council of Armed Forces announced Thursday it will hold an emergency meeting to handle Egypt’s deepening political crisis.
Mohammed ELlBaradei called for an interim presidential council or an interim president along with a government of salvation to keep the country’s fragile democratic system afloat.
EGYPT’S MILITARY CLAIMS CONTROL
[Updated at 11:09 a.m. ET] Egypt’s highest court on Thursday declared the parliament invalid, and the country’s interim military rulers declared full legislative authority, triggering a new level of chaos and confusion in the country’s leadership.
The Supreme Constitutional Court also ruled that a former member of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime may run in a presidential election runoff this weekend.
The ruling on parliament means that it must be dissolved, state TV reported. An Egyptian constitutional law expert told CNN that following the court’s decision, a political decision will be made about what steps to take next.
Parliament had been in session for just over four months.
Egypt decree grants arrest powers to military
Egypt’s justice ministry has issued a decree allowing military police and intelligence officers to arrest civilians suspected of crimes, restoring some of the powers of the decades-old emergency law which expired just two weeks ago.
The controversial order was drafted earlier this month, but was not announced until Wednesday.
The decree applies to a range of offences, including those deemed “harmful to the government,” destruction of property, “obstructing traffic,” and “resisting orders”.
Several of those provisions would allow the military to detain peaceful protesters. Rallies in Tahrir Square routinely disrupt traffic, for example.