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Egypt high court partially invalidates revised election, parliament laws

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) [official website] on Saturday found provisions of the nation's revised parliament and election law invalid under the Egyptian constitution [text]. In April the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament [official website], approved the revisions [JURIST report], which set forth new procedures for lower house elections to be held later this year. The law provided in part that the People's Assembly, Egypt's lower house of parliament, would consist of 546 seats, and the nations electoral map would be divided into 129 electoral districts. In addition the law mandated the removal [Reuters report] of a long-standing prohibition of the use of religious slogans in electoral campaigning. The SCC reportedly found that removal of the provision would like result in political and social balkanization. According to media sources, it is still unclear whether the ruling will interfere [Bloomberg report] with President Mohammed Morsi's [BBC backgrounder] plans to hold elections for the lower house before the end of the year.

Egypt has been plagued by continuing political turmoil since the beginning of its revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. In March the country's Supreme Administrative Court referred [JURIST report] the newly passed electoral law to the SCC for review, thereby delaying parliamentary elections originally set to begin on April 22. 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. 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. In February, the SCC postponed ruling [JURIST report] on whether the assembly was legitimate.

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