Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Egypt's Political Crisis Worsens High Court Dissolves Parliament, Allows Mubarak Ally to Run for President

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Egypt's Political Crisis Worsens High Court Dissolves Parliament, Allows Mubarak Ally to Run for President

Article excerpt

CAIRO -- The battle between Egypt's military leaders and the ascendant Muslim Brotherhood over the country's political fate sharpened Thursday when the nation's constitutional court dissolved the Islamist-dominated Parliament while upholding the right of an ally of deposed leader Hosni Mubarak to remain on this weekend's presidential election ballot.

The Supreme Constitutional Court rulings strengthened the army's hand and tipped Egypt into disarray two days before the presidential runoff begins. They are a setback for the Brotherhood, which controlled nearly half of Parliament and expected to expand its power if its candidate, Mohammed Morsi, defeated Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak, in voting that concludes Sunday.

The court rulings strike at the core of Egypt's long, often bloody struggle over what ideology will govern the Arab world's most populous nation. After years of persecution and arrests, the Brotherhood, the country's most potent opposition under Mubarak, rose to prominence and closed in on its goal of imposing political Islam with its strong showing in May's first round of voting. But the nation's interim rulers -- many of whom are army generals appointed by Mubarak -- appear loath to compromise their authority.

Activists characterized the rulings as a maneuver by the military to weaken the Brotherhood ahead of the army's promise to hand power to a civilian government by July.

Some fear that a victory by Mr. Shafiq, a retired air force general, would cement the military's grip and upend the demands for democratic change that fueled the uprising last year that brought down Mubarak, Egypt's autocratic leader for three decades.

It is unclear what effect the rulings will have on the battle over a constitution and the presidential election.

The Brotherhood did not say how it would respond to the rulings, a signal that perhaps Mr. Morsi and the army may have reached a power-sharing deal.

"We believe it's a political situation, not a constitutional one," Dina Zakaria, co-founder of the group's Committee on Foreign Relations, told Ahram Online. "The counter-revolution is trying to revive the old regime and will not accept civilian rule. …

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