Cairo court postpones ruling on Egypt's constitution

Ruling to determine the legality of an Islamist-dominated panel tasked to write Egypt's new constitution postponed to July 30.

Egyptian protesters demonstrate in front the State Council ahead of an anticipated Administrative Court ruling on the panel writing the new constitution in Cairo, Egypt, Thursday, July 19, 2012. Arabic reads "State Council." (AP Photo/Amr Nabil) *** Local Caption *** Mideast Egypt .JPEG-0048c.jpg
Powered by automated translation

CAIRO // A Cairo court yesterday postponed to July 30 a ruling that will determine the legality of an Islamist-dominated panel tasked to write Egypt's new constitution.

The postponement came after lawyers of the country's most influential Islamic political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, challenged judges of the High Administrative court hearing the case and demanded they be replaced.

The 100-member constitutional panel formed in June by Egypt's now-dissolved parliament had an Islamist majority, and its voting rules allow that majority to override objections by liberals, secularists and others.

The panel was dissolved in April after liberals filed appeals in front of the same court.

Judge Abdel Salam Al Naggar, the head of Cairo's administrative court, referred the appeal to the Supreme Constitutional Court.

Parliament has been at the centre of a power struggle between the military which oversaw Egypt's transition from Mubarak's rule, and Mohammed Morsi, the president and leader of the Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice party.

The political standoff between the two parties is being played out in the courts amid a dizzying array of legal rulings and appeals that has left parliament stuck in limbo.

This month, Mr Morsi ordered parliament to convene, in defiance of a military decision to disband the house in line with a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court.

But on July 11, the top court annulled the decree, a ruling that Mr Morsi said he would respect.

Mr Morsi's decree was applauded by supporters who believed the court's decision to disband parliament was political, but it set off a fire storm of criticism from opponents who accused him of overstepping his authority.

According to the country's interim constitution, drafted by the military generals who took charge after Mubarak's overthrow, the military assumed the dissolved parliament's powers.

Mr Morsi's decision was seen as an opening shot in a power struggle between Egypt's first civilian leader and the Mubarak-appointed generals who wanted to retain broad powers even after they transferred control on June 30.

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse