Egypt’s ruling military council said on Thursday that the presidential election run-off will continue as scheduled this weekend, the state news agency reported as Washington called for a full transfer of power to elected civilians in Egypt.
“The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has assured that the presidential run-off will take place on schedule on Saturday and Sunday,” the official MENA news agency said.
Earlier the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled unconstitutional a political isolation law barring senior officials of the regime of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and top members of his now-dissolved National Democratic Party from standing for public office for 10 years.
The law applies to those who served in the 10 years prior to Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11, 2011 after an 18-day popular uprising.
The court also ruled the whole Islamist-dominated parliament illegitimate, paving the way for the military to resume legislative powers, state media and a military source said.
Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq faces the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi in the vote on Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for a full transfer of power to elected civilians in Egypt after a court paved the way for the military to assume the parliament’s powers.
“There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people,” Clinton told a joint news conference with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and their counterparts from South Korea.
“In keeping with the commitments that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces made to the Egyptian people, we expect to see a full transfer of power to a democratically elected government,” Clinton said.
Clinton said that Egyptians who waged mass protests last year “made it clear that they want a president, a parliament and a constitutional order that will reflect their will and advance their aspirations for political and economic reform.”
“That is exactly what they deserve to have,” she said.
Clinton also voiced concern about recent decrees by military authorities for the election period, which come just weeks after a decades-old emergency law ended.
“Even if they are temporary, they appear to expand the power of the military to detain civilians and roll back their civil liberties,” Clinton said of the decrees.
Earlier, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland voiced hope that Egypt would preserve a “democratic” government. She said that the United States was still studying the ruling but called for the Egyptian people to “have what they fought for” in the revolution that toppled Mubarak last year.
Shafiq welcomed the court rulings that allowed him to contest the country’s leadership and descrived it as “historic verdict.”
Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate the court ruling that declared as unconstitutional the rules under which Egypt’s parliamentary elections were held must be respected.
“The ruling must be respected,” Mursi said in an interview with the privately-owned Dream TV. The Muslim Brotherhood is the biggest party in Egypt’s parliament.
“I respect the decision of the Supreme Constitutional Court in that I respect the institutions of the state and the principle of separation of powers,” Mursi said, but added that he was “dissatisfied” with the rejection of the political isolation law.
“This ruling does not dissolve parliament,” he added, saying that it only applied to a third of the members of the assembly.
However, the head of the constitutional court had earlier told Reuters that the ruling would mean parliament would be dissolved and new elections held.
Mursi said he was confident that “popular isolation and popular rejection is stronger than legal isolation,” referring to this weekend’s presidential vote.
The ruling military, in charge since Mubarak’s ouster in an uprising early last year, has said it would hand power to the elected president by the end of this month.
The uncertain transition has been thrown into further disarray by Thursday’s ruling which annulled parliament. The new president’s powers were to have been defined by a constituent assembly appointed by parliament this week.