Egypt court orders parliament dissolved
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DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court on Thursday ruled that the Islamist-led Parliament must be immediately dissolved, while also blessing the right of Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister to run for president, escalating a battle for power between the remnants of the toppled order and rising Islamists.
The high court, packed with sympathisers of the ousted president, appeared to be engaged in a frontal legal assault on the Muslim Brotherhood, the once-outlawed organisation whose members swept to power in Parliament this spring and whose candidate was the front-runner for the presidency as well.
As night fell, a crowd of protesters was rapidly growing in Cairo's Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that toppled Mubarak last year.
Senior Brotherhood leader and lawmaker Mohammed el-Beltagy said the rulings amounted to a "full-fledged coup." "Egypt just witnessed the smoothest military coup," Hossam Bahgat, director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said in a Twitter post. "We'd be outraged if we weren't so exhausted."
The decision, which dissolves the first freely elected Parliament in Egypt in decades, supercharges a building conflict between the court, which is increasingly presenting itself as a check on Islamists' power, and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The ruling, by the highest judicial authority in Egypt, cannot be appealed and it was not clear how the military council, which has been governing Egypt since Mubarak's downfall in February 2011, would respond. But in anticipation that the court's ruling could anger citizens, the military authorities reimposed martial law on Wednesday.
In the weeks before the first round of presidential voting, Parliament had passed a law banning Ahmed Shafik, who was Mubarak's last prime minister, and other top officials of the Mubarak government from seeking the presidency. The law was previously set aside by a panel of Mubarak-appointed judges and Thursday was ruled unconstitutional by the court.
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