Anger as Egypt parliament dissolved

 

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has warned that a court ruling to dissolve the Islamist-led parliament and let Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister run for president is a move toward reversing the gains of the revolution.

Islamists who gained most from Mr Mubarak's overthrow decried what they called a "coup" by an army-led establishment still full of Mubarak-era officials.

They said the street movement that spurred last year's uprising would not let it pass. The parliamentary vote earlier this year had swept long repressed Islamists into a commanding position in the legislature, a feat the Muslim Brotherhood had aimed to repeat with their candidate in Saturday and Sunday's presidential vote.

Those parliamentary gains will now be put back up for grabs in a new election. In a further setback for the Islamists, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafik, could stay in the presidential race against the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsy.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton said the US expected Egypt's military authorities to fully transfer power to a democratically elected civilian government.

"There can be no going back on the democratic transition called for by the Egyptian people," Ms Clinton told reporters, declining specific comment about the court ruling.

The Muslim Brotherhood said the court rulings indicated Egypt was heading into "very difficult days that might be more dangerous than the last days of Mubarak's rule".

"All the democratic gains of the revolution could be wiped out and overturned with the handing of power to one of the symbols of the previous era," it said.

Mr Morsy pledged to press ahead with his presidential bid regardless and warned against foul play of the type that was typical of elections in Mr Mubarak's days. 

"If there is any forgery, there will be a huge revolution against the criminals ... a huge revolution until we realise the complete goals of the January 25th revolution," he said, referring to the uprising against Mr Mubarak.

Outside the constitutional court, protesters chanted "Down, down with military rule" and hurled stones at troops lined up in a security cordon.

A few hundred also gathered in Tahrir Square. Shafik, a former military man appointed premier in the last days of Mubarak's rule, hailed the rulings as "historic". 

"The ruling regarding parliament includes the dissolution of the lower house of parliament in its entirety," the head of the constitutional court, Farouk Soltan, said. 

A new vote will have to be called by the executive powers, said Mr Soltan, who was appointed by Mubarak.

The court had earlier ruled to overturn a law passed by the Islamist-led parliament that would have blocked senior Mubarak-era officials from the presidential race, legislation designed to keep Mr Shafik and others out. 

For 16 months since Mr Mubarak was toppled after 30 years in office, a transition overseen by generals has been beset by political bickering, protests and often bloodshed. 

But many Egyptians had at least taken some reassurance from the calm conduct of the parliamentary election and the prospect of a presidential poll even though the process of writing a new constitution to define the president's powers is in deadlock. 

Now even those gains are being plunged into doubt, although the army said the presidential poll would go ahead on time.

Reuters