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Egypt opposition files lawsuit demanding public debate of budget

Several Egyptian opposition groups, including the Strong Egypt Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Egyptian Current Party and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions, filed a lawsuit [text, PDF, in Arabic] on Saturday demanding the government open up the draft budget for public debate. The opposition groups originally requested Egypt's upper house of parliament, the Shura Council [official website, in Arabic], to discuss the budget and brought the lawsuit [Ahram report] when they refused. The group is also alleging that having the Shura Council review the budget is unconstitutional because the budget falls within the purview or the House of Representatives, which was dissolved in June. At an Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) [official website, in Arabic] press conference, a representative from the Strong Egypt Party argued it is the right of every citizen to have access to the country's budget to increase transparency.

Egypt has been plagued by continuing political turmoil since the beginning of its revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. Earlier this month, the Shura Council approved [JURIST report] the new election procedures to elect the House of Representatives. This process has been delayed, however, by Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court referring [JURIST report] the newly passed electoral law to the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) for review last month. The court's decision was said to be based on technical grounds [Reuters report], namely that the Shura Council 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] in February. Also in March, the SCC dismissed complaints [JURIST report] against the assembly responsible for drafting the country's new constitution.

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