The ruling Egyptian military council dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament after a court ruling that annulled last winter’s legislative poll, the official news agency and a senior lawmaker said.
The Muslim Brotherhood group was quick to respond, rejecting the military’s decision to implement the court order and accusing the generals of seeking to monopolize power by disbanding the Islamist-dominated parliament and demanded a referendum on the decision.
“Constant threats to dissolve parliament, elected with the will of 30 million Egyptians, confirm the military council’s desire to monopolize power,” the Brotherhood’s political arm said in a statement.
“Dissolving the elected parliament must go to a fair referendum,’ it added.
The Islamist-led parliament received a notice saying the ruling generals have decided “to consider parliament dissolved,” the official MENA news agency reported.
The decision by the Supreme Constitutional Court effectively erased the tenuous progress from Egypt’s troubled transition in the past year, leaving the country with no parliament and concentrating power even more firmly in the hands of the generals who took over from ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
Activists and political figures accused the ruling military council of having carried out a “soft coup” following the court decision, which also and kept Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmad Shafiq eligible for the presidential runoff election.
The politically charged rulings dealt a heavy blow to the fundamentalist Islamic Brotherhood, with the group’s senior leader and lawmaker Mohammed el-Beltagy calling the decisions a “full-fledged coup,” and the group vowed to rally the public against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak.
“This is the Egypt that Shafiq and the military council want and which I will not accept no matter how dear the price is,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Equally blunt was another Brotherhood stalwart, lawmaker Subhi Saleh. “The court, I can say, has handed Egypt to the military council on a golden platter and free of charge too,” he said.
Shafiq’s rival in the Saturday-Sunday runoff, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, said he was unhappy about the rulings but accepted them.
“It is my duty as the future president of Egypt, God willing, to separate between the state’s authorities and accept the rulings,” the U.S.-trained engineer said in a television interview. Late Thursday, he told a news conference: “Millions will go to the ballot boxes on Saturday and Sunday to say ‘no’ to the tyrants.”
he court based its decision on what it said were illegal articles in the law governing parliamentary elections that reserved a third of seats for directly voted independents, or party members, and the rest for party lists.
Egypt’s military decided on a complex electoral system in which voters cast ballots for party lists which made up two thirds of parliament and also for individual candidates for the remaining seats in the lower house.
The individual candidates were meant to be “independents,” but members of political parties were subsequently allowed to run, giving the powerful Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) an advantage.