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Egyptian Military Takes Control as High Court Dissolves Parliament
June 15, 2012

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Egypt's ruling generals are back in nearly complete control of the country, after the Supreme Constitutional Court ordered Parliament dissolved because of irregularities in election practices.

The high court ruled that one-third of the candidates currently serving in the People's Assembly, the lower house, were illegally elected because those seats were intended for independent candidates.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which re-granted itself full legislative authority after the high court's announcement, also reported that it would be choosing the 100 members of the assembly who would write the country's new constitution and that the governmental framework would be in place by the weekend, when the presidential election runoff is set to take place. Parliament had struggled to name members to the constitution-writing panel because of disputes along party lines.

The Brotherhood and the Salafis, both committed Islamist organizations, won the majority of the seats in both houses of Parliament in the January elections, and Parliament has been in session since then, passing several laws, including the one just invalidated by the high court. The ruling generals did not issue a timetable for new parliamentary elections but did say that the presidential election runoff would proceed as scheduled, on Saturday and Sunday.

The runoff pits the Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under former President Hosni Mubarak. Shafiq was the beneficiary of another high court ruling, which voided a recent law barring former members of Mubarak's government from running for political office.

The Brotherhood called it a military coup and vowed to ensure that Morsi won the runoff. He was the top vote-getter in the first round of elections. Many voters, however, voiced disapproval with both candidates: Shafiq is often viewed as a holdover from the Mubarak regime; the Muslim Brotherhood is viewed by some as an extremist political party.

Army soldiers, riot police, and intelligence officers, recentlygiven stronger powers, were in the streets of Cairo in force before the rulings were announced, and shouts of anger and frustration greeted the armed troops after the pronouncements.

This was not the first time that the high court had ordered the dissolution of Parliament. Rulings that voided election laws in 1987 and 1990 required new legislative bodies and a more transparent voting system.

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