Region | Egypt

Egypt’s new poll law ruled unconstitutional

Opposition lauds court ruling, accuses Brotherhood of hastiness

  • By Ramadan Al Sherbini, Correspondent
  • Published: 18:31 February 18, 2013
  • Gulf News

Cairo: Egypt’s top court on Monday ruled as unconstitutional a new electoral law drafted by the Islamist-led parliament, a verdict set to embolden the opposition.

The Supreme Constitutional Court said that the law is unconstitutional because its reshaping of electoral districts violates the principle of fair opportunities.

“The law should heed fair representation of the population and the electoral districts should not be delineated in an arbitrary way,” said the court.

The court added in a statement that the draft law also infringes a recently approved constitution in articles related to a ban on former members of the now-disbanded ruling National Democratic Party, electoral tickets and supervision of voting for expatriates.

The court asked the Shura Council, which is temporarily in charge of legislation in Egypt, to revise the electoral law to ensure its compliance with the constitution.

The ruling comes a few days before the Islamist President Mohammad Mursi is to issue a decree setting the date of the legislative election.

The secular-leaning opposition has repeatedly criticised the electoral law as having been drafted to favour Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood group in the coming election. The party that will gain a clear majority in the polls will have the right to form the government.

“This ruling comes as a gain to the [opposition] National Salvation Front,” said Abdullah Al Mughazi, a member of the main opposition bloc. “It validates the view held by the Front that the electoral law does not fairly distribute constituencies across the nation,” he told Gulf News.

“The Muslim Brotherhood, being in a rush to dominate the coming parliament, violated the constitution, which the group itself drafted.”

Last June, the same court invalidated the Islamist-led legislature after the electoral rules were found illegal.

Officials at the Shura Council on Monday said that in view of the ruling they will seek assistance from survey and legal experts to redistribute the electoral districts to ensure the law will be finally cleared by the top court.

It is not clear yet if the verdict will prompt delaying the legislative polls, expected to be held in April.

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