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Egypt court delays elections with request for further review of electoral law

Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court on Wednesday referred the country's newly passed electoral law to the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) [official website] for review, thereby delaying parliamentary elections originally set to begin on April 22. The court's decision is said to be based on technical grounds [Reuters report], namely that the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament, failed to return the amended electoral law to the SCC for final review before passing it [JURIST report]. The law was amended in five key areas, as demanded by the high court [JURIST report] last month. Notable changes 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. Opposition leaders, who threatened to boycott the elections scheduled by President Mohamed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], welcomed the ruling. Morsi, however, will seek appeal on grounds that such sovereign acts should not be overturned.

Since the beginning of its revolution [JURIST backgrounder], Egypt has been plagued by continuing political turmoil, protests, and violence. Earlier this week, the SCC dismissed complaints [JURIST report] against the assembly responsible for drafting the country's new constitution. Specifically, the complaints challenged the method for selecting the assembly's members, which was boycotted [JURIST report] by liberals and Christians as a misrepresentation of all Egyptians. Last month the SCC postponed ruling [JURIST report] on whether the assembly was legitimate. In January UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] voiced concern [JURIST report] over the growing violence and rising death toll stemming from the country's ongoing protests. Also that month Morsi declared a state of emergency in an attempt to quell growing unrest and violent political protests in cities brought on by 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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