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Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood said any delay to the country’s presidential election is unacceptable, after a court ruling called into question whether the vote will start on schedule in less than a fortnight’s time.
Yesterday’s ruling said only the ruling military council, and not the country’s election commission, can call on voters to cast ballots, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported. An appeal against the court decision will be heard on May 12 after state attorneys acting on behalf of the elections commission asked that the case be reviewed.
“The Egyptian people will never accept any attempt to postpone the vote,” Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan said in a phone interview today. “No one is willing to be more patient, or to accept prolonging the transitional period and the rule of the military council.”
The court decision of May 9 injected fresh uncertainty into the presidential race, adding to the tumult surrounding the transition to democracy in the Arab world’s most populous country. Deadly clashes in Cairo earlier this month fueled a sense of insecurity ahead of the vote scheduled to start in Egypt on May 23.
The appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court argues that yesterday’s ruling by lower-court violated a “constitutional declaration” stipulating that the commission’s decisions cannot be contested, the Cairo-based agency said.
Mohamed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, whose party is the largest in parliament, has also previously said the group will not accept a delay of the election. Ghozlan said today he expects the ruling to be overturned.
Preparations for the vote appeared to be proceeding despite the court ruling. Egyptians abroad will start voting tomorrow as scheduled, the state-run Ahram Gate reported today, citing Ahmed Ragheb, assistant foreign minister. Local media also advertised the country’s first televised presidential candidates’ debate scheduled today between two frontrunners: former foreign minister Amre Moussa and former Muslim Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul-Fotouh.
Some legal experts quoted by state media said a change of schedule for the ballot could be avoided by having the head of the ruling military council issue the call to voters.
Hatem Ammer, the head of the court that issued yesterday’s ruling said today that the decision does not mean halting the presidential elections, Ahram Online reported.
Before the ruling yesterday, the council said it remained committed to the vote, comments echoed later by the elections commission. The first round should be held on May 23 and 24, while a deciding second round is scheduled for June 16 and 17, if required. The final result is due on June 21.
The elections commission said it was continuing its work until presidential elections are “concluded on schedule,” without mentioning the court ruling, according to MENA. The military council, accused by activists of mismanaging the transitional period, has repeatedly said it was committed to transferring power to civilians by the end of June after the presidential vote. The council renewed its pledge yesterday, called for sticking to the elections scheduled dates and stressed its “full trust” in the elections commission in a statement issued before the court’s decision, MENA reported.
To contact the reporter on this story: Mariam Fam in Cairo at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at email@example.com