Egypt top court again delays ruling on constitution

Egypt's top court on Sunday postponed a ruling on the legality of the Islamist-dominated commission that drafted a contested new constitution, state media reported.

A verdict on the constitution, adopted by referendum in December, had been due on Sunday but the Supreme Constitutional Court adjourned its decision until March 3, the reports said.

A verdict had been expected on December 2 but was delayed after supporters of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi surrounded the court, preventing judges from entering the building and prompting the court to suspend its work.

A ruling then scheduled for January 15 also did not take place after dozens of demonstrators staged an overnight sit-in outside the court as riot police formed a security cordon around the building.

The court was due to issue its verdict Sunday on the legality of the panel that drafted the constitution, which is at the heart of Egypt’s worst political crisis since the overthrow nearly two years ago of president Hosni Mubarak.

The opposition argues that the panel failed to represent all Egyptians as it was boycotted by liberals, leftists and Christians.

The charter has divided Egypt, pitting Morsi and his backers against the opposition which includes secularists, leftists and Christians as well as Muslims.

The court was also due to deliver a verdict on the validity of the Islamist-dominated Senate, following lawsuits arguing there were irregularities in the election. It is not clear when that verdict will be announced.

Two-thirds of the Senate, the 270-member upper house known as the Shura Council, were elected early last year, with one third appointed by Morsi in December.