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CAIRO: Egypt’s Islamist-led parliament reconvened yesterday in an open challenge to the generals who dissolved the assembly last month, stirring up tensions with the military just 10 days into Mohamed Mursi’s presidency.
Mursi, the first civilian president after six decades of military men in power, recalled the assembly on Sunday. The body, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood group and other allies, was dismissed by the army in line with a court ruling issued days before Mursi’s election.
Shortly before parliament Speaker Saad al-Katatni opened the session, the US urged all sides to engage in talks to safeguard the political transition in Egypt, a close US ally in the three decades under Hosni Mubarak.
“I invited you to convene in accordance with the decree issued by the president,” said Katatni, who like Mursi hails from the Brotherhood. “I would like to confirm that the presidential decree does not violate the court order.”
The dispute is part of a broader power struggle which could take years to play out. It pits the Brotherhood, which was repressed by Mubarak and his predecessors, against the generals seeking to keep their privileges and status, and a wider establishment still filled with Mubarak era officials.
The parliament was elected under a complex voting procedure which the court later ruled was unconstitutional, declaring the lower house void.
The then ruling military said that meant parliament had to be dissolved, but Mursi’s supporters say it should still be allowed to work until early elections are held after a new constitution is passed.
On Monday, the army defended its action to dissolve parliament and, in an apparent swipe at the president, said it was confident “all state institutions” would respect the constitution and the law.
Nevertheless, the army did not prevent MPs from entering parliament.
After meeting to discuss Mursi’s decree, the supreme court said on Monday its decisions were final and binding. It was to hear challenges to the presidential decree’s constitutionality yesterday.
As well as riling the army and judiciary, Mursi’s recall of parliament raises tensions between the Brotherhood – the biggest winners so far in Egypt’s political transformation – and liberal and other groups concerned at what they see as an Islamist power grab.
The Brotherhood says it is seeking a way to comply with the court’s ruling that would not require parliament to be dissolved. – Reuters