President orders parliament back to work
President Mohamed Morsy has issued a decree ordering parliament to reconvene.
According to a number of sources the decree appears to be ambiguous. Whilst ordering the parliament back to work it appears to state that parliament will work only until a new constitution is agreed and then a new election will be held.
Reconvening parliament is a direct challenge to the Supreme Constitutional Court. The court had dissolved parliament on the grounds that the election earlier this year was improperly held because political parties had contested seats meant for independents. The president’s decree does not make it clear as to whether it is just that portion of the parliament involving seats for independents that will be subject to an election or whether it is the whole parliament.
The move is also a direct challenge to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), the body which has been running Egypt since the fall of President Mubarak’s regime last year. It is questionable whether President Morsy has the powers to issue such a decree, but then the powers taken by SCAF were equally questionable.
Last night the judges held an emergency meeting as did SCAF although there was no immediate reaction beyond that. One newspaper is reporting that a military spokesman said that the generals had been given no warning of the decree.
Reaction to the president’s move was mixed. The Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) welcomed the move as did the coalition of revolutionary youth groups. Some secular parties have decided not to attend parliament and some have described the move as a reckless confrontation with the military.
If the parliament does reconvene there is also a question mark as to whether any laws passed in the interim period will be constitutional.