Egypt indefinitely puts off legislative polls

Egypt indefinitely puts off legislative polls

HomeAfricaEgypt Mon Mar 2, 2015 7:3AM

The government in Egypt has indefinitely postponed the country’s parliamentary polls, which had originally been scheduled for March, after the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) struck down as unconstitutional one of the laws that regulate the electoral process.

“Article 3 of the Law 202 for the year 2014, which regulates the individual seats system for the House of Representatives is unconstitutional,” SCC Judge Anwar Al-Aasy announced on Sunday during an SCC session aired on state TV.

Shortly after the ruling against the Elections Constituency Division Law, a spokesman for the Higher Electoral Commission (HEC) announced that the parliamentary elections, originally set for March 21, “would be put on hold for the time being,” Egyptian news outlet Ahram Online reported.

It further cited Omar Marwan as saying that the HEC would convene an urgent meeting “to discuss the consequences of the court verdict.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s President General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who also holds legislative powers until an elected parliament formally convenes, issued a statement Sunday afternoon, urging his cabinet to amend the law within a month.

Egypt has been without a parliament since its House of Representatives, elected in late 2011 following the downfall of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak, was dissolved in June 2012 after a court ruling that struck down election regulations as unconstitutional.

According to the report, the petitioners against the constitutionality of the law say it violates the principle of fair, proportional representation for all voters.

This is while Article 102 of the constitution stipulates that “the division of electoral constituencies must guarantee the equal representation of the population, and governorates, as well as the equitable representation of voters.”

The basis of the unconstitutionality of the law, however, has not yet been explained by Egyptian authorities.

Meanwhile, the court rejected other legal challenges filed against the Law of the Exercise of Political Rights and the Parliamentary Elections Law, both of which were also enacted in 2014.

According to the Parliamentary Elections Law, the House of Representatives is comprised of 567 seats; 420 will be elected as independent individuals, while 120 are reserved for party lists. Five percent, or 27, of the 120 seats reserved for parties will be appointed by the president upon recommendations from respective state councils and professional syndicates.

Parliamentary elections constitute the third and final step in a political roadmap set forth following the July 2013 ouster of Egypt’s first freely-elected President Mohamed Morsi in a military coup led by then army chief and current President al-Sisi.

The first two steps included passing a constitution in January 2014, followed by presidential polls in June 2014, both of which were widely viewed as controversial since they were heavily influenced by a military-installed interim government.

Sisi, meanwhile, has come under fire by rights groups for launching a heavy-handed crackdown on anti-government protesters and stifling freedom of speech in the Arab country.

Rights groups say the crackdown on the supporters of Morsi has left over 1,400 people dead and 22,000 arrested, while hundreds have been sentenced to death in mass trials.

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