Egypt Court Blocks Articles of Election, Parliament Laws

Egypt’s top court ruled that draft laws on voting and parliamentary procedures are in breach of the constitution, creating a new obstacle to President Mohamed Mursi’s plan to hold elections.

The Supreme Constitutional Court found four articles of the parliament law and nine from the election law were unconstitutional, the judicial body said in a faxed statement from Cairo yesterday.

Egypt has been without a functioning lower house of parliament, the main legislative body, since it was shut down by court order in June last year, days before Mursi won an election runoff. Mursi’s initial proposal to hold elections starting in April this year for a new assembly was also blocked by courts, which objected to the proposed rules for voting.

After the failure of that plan, Mursi said in March that he envisaged elections starting in October for a parliament that would then be able to convene before the end of the year. It’s not clear whether yesterday’s ruling will affect that timetable.

Mursi, who’s backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, has repeatedly clashed with Egypt’s judiciary since he became the country’s first democratically elected civilian president.

He has also been criticized by secular politicians and activists for seeking to cement power for his Islamist movement rather than addressing the main concerns behind the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, such as unemployment and police brutality.

Egypt’s economy has been growing at the slowest pace in two decades since the revolution, while the main stock index has plunged about 25 percent since the end of 2010 and yields on government bonds have surged.

Mursi and allies say that obstruction of his government by the judiciary, as well as regular protests and strikes, are holding back a recovery.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.