Egypt’s top court says ruling on parliament final

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s highest court insisted Monday that its ruling to invalidate the Islamist-dominated parliament was final and binding, setting up a showdown with the country’s newly elected president after he ordered lawmakers to return.

The announcement on state TV came a day after President Mohammed Morsi recalled the legislators, defying the powerful military’s decision to dismiss parliament after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that a third of its members had been elected illegally.

However, both sides appeared together Monday at a military graduation ceremony. Morsi sat between the head of the armed forces Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi and Chief-of-Staff Sami Anan. The three sat grim faced for most of the ceremony, but Tantawi and Morsi exchanged a few words while seated on the reviewing stand.

The powerful military, meanwhile, delivered a thinly veiled warning to Morsi, saying it trusted that all state institutions will respect the constitutional declarations issued by the military during its 16 months in power since the fall of Hosni Mubarak.

The declarations are an interim measure after the constitution in effect under Mubarak’s 29-year rule was suspended. A new and permanent constitution has yet to be drafted.

The last of the two declarations, issued June 17, gave the military far-reaching powers after handing over control to Morsi on June 30.

The statement said the military would continue to support “legitimacy, the constitution and the law” — language that means the generals would likely take the judiciary’s side in its tussle with Morsi over the fate of parliament.

The decision by the judges to stand by their June 14 ruling came in an emergency meeting even as the speaker of the dissolved legislature, Saad el-Katatni, called for parliament’s more powerful lower chamber, the People’s Assembly, to convene on Tuesday. The court’s ruling did not cover parliament’s upper chamber, known as the Shura Council, which is largely toothless.

Both Morsi and el-Katatni are longtime members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist group that has long been at odds with the military and, with other Islamists, holds the majority of parliamentary seats.

The move to restore parliament appeared to be an effort to exert Morsi’s authority as president despite a series of moves by the military before his election aimed at limiting his powers.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took over governing the country after Mubarak was ousted by a popular uprising last year and the ruling generals have come under criticism for being slow to hand over power to a civilian administration.

Morsi’s executive order made no mention of the court’s ruling, restricting itself to revoking the military’s decree to dissolve the chamber. That appeared to be an attempt to avoid being seen as flouting a legal decision. Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali, speaking on Monday, said Morsi’s decision did not violate the court’s ruling, according to the Middle East News Agency.

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