BEIRUT

Middle East

Egypt cancels parliamentary vote dates after court ruling

People walk in front of parliament in Cairo March 7, 2013. An Egyptian court threw the timetable for parliamentary elections into confusion on Wednesday, ordering the cancellation of President Mohamed Mursi's decree calling the vote and forcing a likely delay to polls due to start in April. (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

CAIRO: Egypt's election committee has scrapped a timetable under which voting for the lower house of parliament should have begun next month, state media reported on Thursday, following a court ruling that threw the entire polling process into confusion.

Egypt now lies in electoral limbo, with no election dates at a time when uncertainty is taking a heavy toll on the economy - the Egyptian pound is falling, foreign currency reserves are sliding and the budget deficit is soaring to an unmanageable level.

The political crisis deepened on Wednesday when the Administrative Court cancelled a decree issued by President Mohamed Mursi calling the elections. It also returned the electoral law, the object of feuding between the opposition and Mursi's ruling Islamists, to the Constitutional Court for review.

The state news agency MENA said the elections committee had issued its decision to scrap the voting schedule after "the committee saw the details and reasons for the ruling by the Administrative Court announced on Wednesday".

Egypt's turbulent transition to democracy after the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak two years ago has been marked by a number of disputes between the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and the judiciary, notably last year when Mursi temporarily gave himself sweeping powers and barred the courts from challenging his decisions.

The four rounds of voting had been due to start on April 22 and last until late June. The old lower house was itself dissolved after a court ruled against a previous version of the electoral law used to elect it.

 

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