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Egypt upper house approves court-ordered changes to election law

The Egyptian Shura Council approved a draft election law on Thursday, paving the way for parliamentary elections to be held in the next few months. The new election law embodies the key changes to five articles [JURIST report] as demanded by Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court [official website] earlier this week. The Shura Council adopted the court's ruling and approved the changes without a vote [Reuters report]. President Mohamed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] is expected to schedule the parliamentary elections to be held within the next two months. Notable changes to the law include officers not being allowed to change their political party once they are elected, one third of the lower house being reserved for independents and members of the former National Democratic Party (NDP) being barred from participating in politics for ten years. Morsi is expected to ratify the election law and announce the date for elections this month.

Egypt has been plagued by continuing protests and violence since the beginning of its revolution. Earlier this month the Supreme Constitutional Court postponed ruling [JURIST report] on whether the legislative constitutional assembly that recently drafted a new charter was legitimate. The judges claimed a crowd of protestors outside the courthouse had intimidated the judges and blocked the entrance. Last month UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] voiced concern [JURIST report] over the growing violence and rising death toll in Egypt stemming from ongoing protests throughout the country. Also in January Morsi declared a state of emergency in an attempt to quell growing unrest and violent political protests in cities a day after nationwide unrest compounded following an Egyptian court ruling handing down 21 death sentences [JURIST reports] for a 2012 soccer riot that resulted in 74 deaths and thousands of injuries.

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