A surprise decision by Egypt’s newly-inaugurated President Mohamed Morsi reinstating the dissolved People’s Assembly (the lower house of parliament) has led to a state of political confusion, bringing an end to the relative calm that has prevailed since last month’s hotly-contested presidential runoff vote.
[Egypt Independent, 7/8/2012] Egypt’s new president ordered the dissolved Islamist-led parliament on Sunday to reconvene until a new one was elected, challenging the authority of the military generals who had dismissed the assembly based on a court ruling. President Mohamed Morsy was handed power on 30 June by the generals who had been in charge since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. But, shortly before handing over, the army curbed some presidential powers and gave itself a legislative role.
Morsy’s decision removes those legislative powers from the army and returns them to a parliament dominated by the party of Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, analysts said. The state news agency MENA said the military council had held an emergency session to discuss the decree. A member of the council, who declined to be identified, told Reuters the generals had not been given prior warning of Morsy’s decision. Morsy also called for an early vote once a new constitution was drawn up. That suggested a possible compromise by indicating that the assembly, criticized by some for a poor initial performance, would not serve a full four-year term.
[Ahram Online, 7/8/2012] The People’s Assembly (the lower house of Egypt’s parliament) will practice its full legislative and regulatory responsibilities as soon as it holds its next meeting, which is expected to be held "within hours," assembly speaker Saad El-Katatni declared in a statement issued early Sunday evening.
El-Katatni’s declaration came after a surprise presidential decree issued by Egypt’s newly-inaugurated President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday afternoon calling for the reinstatement of parliament’s dissolved lower house. Morsi’s decree essentially revoked the military council’s mid-June decision to dissolve the People’s Assembly following a High Constitutional Court (HCC) ruling that deemed an elections law – which governed last year’s legislative polls – unconstitutional.
[Egypt Independent, 7/8/2012] Mohamed ElBaradei, the cofounder of the Dostour Party, criticized the decision by President Mohamed Morsy to order the Islamist-dominated Parliament to reconvene, saying it was a “violation” of judicial authority. “The executive decision to overrule the Constitutional Court is turning Egypt from a government of law into a government of men,” ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account. Experts say that the move by Morsy will lead to a clash with the powerful generals who formally handed power to him on 30 June. The state-run Middle East News Agency reported that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces held an "emergency meeting" shortly after Morsy’s decree was announced.
[Egypt Independent, 7/8/2012] Parliament Speaker Saad al-Katatny announced on Sunday that he welcomes President Mohamed Morsy’s decision to repeal the decision by the Supreme Council for the Armed Force to dissolve the People’s Assembly. Katatny called on Parliament to reconvene and begin work immediately. He said Morsy’s decision is "respectful to the supremacy of the law and public institutions."
[Egypt Independent, 7/8/2012] The Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, said in a statement Sunday night that marches would be launched from mosques in Cairo to Tahrir Square in support of President Mohamed Morsy’s summoning of Parliament. The decision has already heightened tensions within political forces, some of which supported the decision while others described it as disrespect of judicial rulings. Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that the powerful Supreme Council for the Armed Forces held an emergency meeting to discuss the implications of the decision of Morsy.
[Ahram Online, 7/8/2012] Liberal-leaning political analyst Abdel-Moneim Saeed believes Morsi’s decision will have a host of unpleasant near-term political ramifications. "We stand on the verge of a constitutional crisis," Saeed told Ahram Online. "The HCC, not the president, has the authority to take such a decision. [Morsi’s move] will have an adverse political and economic impact on the country." Fouad Badrawi, secretary-general of Egypt’s liberal Wafd Party, echoed these sentiments. "Mursi’s decision is against the law and contradicts the ruling delivered by the HCC," he told Ahram Online. "This move transforms us from a country ruled by law into an authoritarian state." Saeed went on: "Morsi took his oath of office before the HCC, where he proclaimed his respect for the law – and then he takes this decision. I don’t understand this latest development." Liberal activist Ayman Nour, for his part, declared on Twitter: "The presidential decree was shocking. It must be explained whether the People’s Assembly will be operating legally. I urge President Morsi to respect the rule of law." MP Mostafa El-Naggar, for his part, told Ahram Online that Morsi’s move "appears to be part of an agreement between the president and the SCAF, but I can’t figure out the legal aspects or implications of such a decree."
MP and leading Brotherhood figure Mohamed El-Beltagi, for his part, heaped praise on Morsi’s decision, which he described as a "bona fide transition of power from the military council to the presidency." "The most important thing about the decision is that it proves that the president has the right to overrule decisions made before his inauguration," El-Beltagi was quoted as saying on the Brotherhood’s official website. "He [Morsi] showed his refusal to allow the military council to hold legislative power; but he doesn’t want to leave a vacuum," he added. "This proves he will fulfil promises made before the elections to suspend the constitutional addendum, but through balanced decisions." Revolutionary writer Alaa El-Aswani described the decision as "the first step in the right direction." He tweeted: "Legislative prerogatives should be in the hands of the people – not the generals."