With Law’s Adoption, Morsi Announces Parliamentary Elections
Egypt’s Shura Council on Thursday adopted the election law amended by the High Constitutional Court earlier this week. The Council accepted the Court’s revisions and approved the law without a vote. Ahmed Fahmy, the Council’s speaker, said, “The decision of the Constitutional Court is binding and we have no right to vote on it. It must be carried out.” The new law includes provisions preventing members of parliament from changing their political affiliation once in office, reserving one third of the seats in the lower house of parliament for independents, and banning former members of the National Democratic Party from political participation for ten years. President Mohammed Morsi is expected to ratify the law by February 25.
Late Thursday night, Morsi announced that parliamentary elections would be held in a four-stage vote beginning April 27 and that the body would convene for its first session on July 6. Under Egypt’s newly-adopted constitution, the president is required to gain the approval of parliament before appointing a prime minister, and Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, is aiming for an outright majority in the new parliament.
Opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei of the National Salvation Front (NSF) called Morsi’s election plans “a recipe for disaster,” and opposition parties agreed to meet today to discuss the developments. Fearing an Islamist majority in the new parliament, the NSF has already warned that it would boycott the elections unless talks with the president aimed at real reconciliation are held. Hamdeen Sabbiahi, leader of the Egyptian Popular Current, stated that his party will boycott the election regardless of reconciliation talks. “The Brotherhood want to rush the elections because of its belief it will be able at to secure a third of the seats under the current circumstances,” he said. FJP Deputy Head Essam El-Erian cautioned the opposition against any boycott, stating that the “absence of one’s voice will cost him long-term absence from political and party life.”