The State Litigation Authority appealed on Wednesday the ruling to suspend the House of Representatives’ elections issued by the Administrative Court on 6 March. The appeal will be considered by the Supreme Administrative Court, Egypt’s highest court.
The State Litigation Authority is the official judicial representative of the presidential and executive branch, which is responsible for filing complaints and lawsuits at the branch’s request.
The authority released a statement on Wednesday, stating that they appealed the Administrative Court’s verdict after they studied it thoroughly.
Notably, the presidency issued a statement on the same day of the verdict, respecting the court’s decision. “The presidency asserts its full respect for the administrative court’s ruling to suspend the parliamentary elections and refer the elections law to the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC), upholding the state of law and achieving separation of powers,” the statement read.
Elections for the House of Representatives, the lower house of parliament, were scheduled to start on 22 April, as per a decree issued by President Mohamed Morsi. However, a lawsuit was filed against Morsi and Shura Council Speaker Ahmed Fahmy, stating that the electoral law governing elections is unconstitutional, ultimately invalidating any election process governed by this law.
Accordingly, the Administrative Court ruled to suspend the elections and referred the electoral law to the SCC.
The authority’s decision provoked debates between members of the Shura Council during its session held on Wednesday. The decision was described as “manipulation of the people’s will” by several members of the council, who claimed the decision would intensify the current tense political climate. The members argued that the presidency went back on its promise to respect judicial verdicts and appealed it, according to state-run news agency MENA.
On the other hand, other members praised the State Litigation Authority’s decision, claiming that the authority had to appeal the verdict because it prevented Morsi from using his powers, MENA reported.
During the session, Shura Council member and deputy head of the Freedom and Justice Party Essam El-Erian called on the council to draft a new electoral law that takes the SCC comments into consideration, before sending it to SCC for approval and recommendations. He added that the council should commit to any amendments proposed by SCC regarding the new law.
Media reports claimed that the Supreme Electoral Committee (SEC) also appealed the decision. However, state-run news agency MENA reported that SEC spokesperson Chancellor Hisham Mokhtar denied the media claims. He also denied that the SEC asked the State Litigation Authority to appeal on its behalf.
Ibrahim Darwesh, constitutional expert, claimed that the Supreme Administrative Court would never accept the appeal. He explained to Daily News Egypt that the Administrative Court’s verdict referred electoral law to SCC, which means that elections cannot be held before SCC approves the law. “Shura Council is now legislating a new elections law, which means they confess that the previous law was unconstitutional. The Supreme Administrative Court would surely take this in mind.”
Tahany El-Gebaly, former member of the SCC, said the Administrative Court’s verdict had two sections: a thematic section which is suspending the elections and a constitutional one which is referring the electoral law to the SCC. El-Gebaly added that the Supreme Administrative Court cannot rule on resuming elections, explaining that its jurisdiction is related to the thematic section of the verdict only. “Elections won’t be resumed until SCC approves the electoral law.”
Legal expert Raa’fat Fouda affirmed the statements of El-Gebaly and Darwesh. “The State Litigation Authority should appeal the verdict, because it is the judicial representative of the president, who issued the decision to hold parliamentary elections,” said Fouda.
The presidency refused to comment on the State Litigation Authority’s decision to appeal.