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Egypt’s Shura Council is illegal, court rules

Egypt’s highest court has ruled that the country’s upper house of parliament and constitutional panel were illegally elected.

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Egyptian riot police sit outside the high constitutional court in Cairo on February 3, 2013. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Egypt’s highest court has ruled that the country’s upper house of parliament and constitutional panel were illegally elected. However, it said the upper house, called the Shura Council, could continue to meet and make laws until a new parliament is elected.

Gaber Nassar, constitutional law professor at Cairo University, told NBC News that the court’s ruling means that “whatever laws were issued before by the Shura Council are legal but now the only thing the Shura Council can now do is issue laws related to electing the new parliament. The Shura will be dissolved as soon as new parliamentary elections are held.”

The parliament’s lower chamber is not expected to be elected until later this year or early 2014, the Associated Press reported.

Current members of the Shura Council were chosen in an election in which just 7 percent of Egypt’s voters turned out, NBC News reported. The assembly is dominated by Islamists, and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi have complained that it produced a constitution that fails to protect freedoms and the rights of minorities, Bloomberg Businessweek reported.

“We’re looking into whether the ruling” on the assembly “will allow us to file cases arguing that the constitution itself is void,” Khaled Dawoud, a spokesman for the National Salvation Front opposition bloc, told Bloomberg Businessweek.

Officials from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party criticized the court’s ruling. “The people approved of the Constituent Assembly,” the panel that drafted the new constitution, Mourad Ali, media adviser for the party, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “It doesn’t work then that the Constitutional Court says it’s illegal or unconstitutional.”

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/130602/egypt-s-shura-council-illegal-court-rules