Last updated: 6 June, 2012

Court to sit two days before Egypt poll runoff

Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court is to sit just two days before a presidential election runoff to review a law that had threatened to bar one of the two candidates, a spokesman said on Wednesday.

“The court has scheduled June 14 as the date for its hearing on the appeal lodged by the electoral commission concerning the law,” court spokesman Maher Sami told state MENA news agency.

Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, is due to square off in the runoff on June 16-17 against the front runner from the first round, Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi.

He was initially disqualified from standing in the election in accordance with a law passed by the Islamist-dominated parliament in April barring top Mubarak-era officials from running for public office.

But in late April the electoral commission accepted an appeal from Shafiq against his disqualification and the case was referred to the court.

Three of the losing candidates from the first round joined forces with youth groups on Monday to demand the suspension of the runoff until the implementation of the so-called political isolation law.

Leftist Hamdeen Sabbahi and moderate Islamist Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, who came third and fourth respectively, signed the statement along with fellow candidate Khaled Ali.

Shafiq is reviled by the youth activists who were the driving force in the uprising that toppled Mubarak in February last year. Last week, unknown attackers set fire to his Cairo campaign headquarters.

In the first round, Mursi won 24.77 percent of the vote, slightly ahead of Shafiq’s 23.66 percent. Sabbahi came third with 20.71 percent, ahead of Abul Fotouh with 17.47 percent. Ali trailed behind.

At the June 14 hearing, the court will also examine an appeal by the High Administrative Court over the constitutionality of certain aspects of a law governing recent legislative elections which took place between November last year and February, MENA said.

The case deals with the way in which seats are divided between political parties and independents and, if the articles are deemed unconstitutional, the current Islamist-dominated parliament could be dissolved.