News / Middle East

    Egypt Court Throws Election Timetable Up in the Air

    People walk at Al Arafa, known as the city of the dead, near an electoral banner for independent presidential candidate Hany Morgan in old Cairo, March 6, 2013.
    People walk at Al Arafa, known as the city of the dead, near an electoral banner for independent presidential candidate Hany Morgan in old Cairo, March 6, 2013.
    Reuters
    An Egyptian court threw the timetable for parliamentary elections into confusion on Wednesday, ordering the cancellation of President Mohamed Morsi’s decree calling the vote and forcing a likely delay to polls due to start in April.

    The Administrative Court’s rules deepened Egypt’s political uncertainty at a time of social unrest and economic crisis, with the nation’s foreign currency reserves at critically-low levels and the budget deficit soaring.

    The court said it had referred Egypt’s amended electoral law, under which the lower house polls are due to be held, to the Supreme Constitutional Court for review.

    Egypt has been torn by political confusion and strife since the 2011 uprising that deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak. Many opposition parties had announced they would boycott the vote, which had been due to be held in four stages from April 22 until late June.

    Morsi’s office said that while it respected the court’s decision, it would appeal the ruling, which was handed down as the government says it wants to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF)on a $4.8 billion loan to shore up Egypt’s finances.

    “It is now likely that elections will be postponed, extending political uncertainties and further delaying a possible IMF deal at a time when restoring confidence in the economy is needed to avert a potential economic crisis,” said Farouk Soussa, chief economist at Citi in Dubai.

    “Egypt’s economic challenges are deepening by the day, while the prospects of addressing these seemingly diminish at an equally alarming rate,” he said.

    The IMF is unlikely to want to grant a loan while there remains significant upheaval and lack of any form of political consensus, said Jason Tuvey, Assistant Economist at Capital Economics in London.

    “This uncertainty will further weigh on the Egyptian economy, which is already very weak, and possibly lead to further capital flight and greater pressure on the pound,” he said.

    Ruling on Technical Grounds

    Mohamed Gadallah, Morsi’s legal adviser, said the presidency respected the court’s decision which was due to a technical error, but said it would appeal on the grounds that such decrees are sovereign acts and should not be overturned.

    The court made its ruling on technical grounds, saying in a statement that the Shura Council, Egypt’s upper house of parliament, had not returned the amended electoral law to the Supreme Constitutional Court for final review before passing it.

    Gadallah said the presidency was not in conflict with the judiciary and that Shura Council should have resubmitted the law to the constitutional court for final review.

    Egyptian courts have made a number of rulings that have gone against Morsi and his ruling Muslim Brotherhood. The previous Islamist-dominated lower house was dissolved by a court ruling that struck down the original electoral law under which the chamber had been elected.

    Violence frequently has flared in Egyptian cities, notably late last year over a decree in which Morsi temporarily gave himself sweeping powers. Youths fought police in the Suez Canal city of Port Said for a fourth day on Wednesday.

    Political science professor Mustapha al-Sayyid said a delay to the elections was likely as the case bounced between different courts.

    “Of course the government will appeal but eventually, judging by previous experience, the higher court will rule to postpone the vote until the Constitutional Court sees the amended electoral law, which should have happened in the first place,” he said.

    Morsi called the elections on Feb. 21. He has already changed the starting date to avoid making members of the Christian minority vote during their Easter festival.

    Opposition politician Amr Hamzawy welcomed the court’s decision. “Again, the judiciary has stopped the Muslim Brotherhood from making a mess of the rule of law and legislation,” he told Reuters. “Referring the law back to the Supreme Constitutional Court is a new lesson to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

    You May Like

    US, Allies Discuss Next Steps in Islamic State Fight

    Meeting comes a day after US Navy SEAL was killed while fighting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq

    In China, Traditional Banks Fight Challenge From Internet Firms

    Internet companies lent more than $150 billion to customers in 2015, which is an extremely small amount compared to the much larger lending by commercial banks last year

    Trump Faces Tough Presidential Odds Against Clinton

    Numerous national election surveys show former secretary of state defeating presumptive Republican nominee with tough talk to halt illegal immigration and temporarily block Muslims from entering country

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora