x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Egypt's Morsi expects parliamentary elections to be held in October

Egypt's new election law must be reviewed by the Supreme Constitutional Court before it can be ratified, which may take months. Bradley Hope reports from Cairo

Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, left, the Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir, centre, and Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's president, at the Arab League summit in Doha on Tuesday. Karim Sahib / AFP
Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, left, the Sudanese president Omar Al Bashir, centre, and Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's president, at the Arab League summit in Doha on Tuesday. Karim Sahib / AFP

CAIRO // Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi today said he expected parliamentary elections to be held in October after delays caused by a court decision.

The delay could lead to heightened tensions over the summer between Mr Morsi's supporters and a broad opposition movement that wants him out of power. There have been regular protests against his government since November, many of them violent.

Mr Morsi had tried to fast-track new parliamentary elections last month, ordering them to begin at the end of April and continue over two months. But an administrative court ruled that the Shura Council, the upper house of parliament that is the only legislative body at the moment because the lower house was dissolved last year, did not properly consult the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) on revisions made to an elections law.

The Shura Council approved a new electoral law on Tuesday, which now must be reviewed by the SCC before it can be ratified.

Mr Morsi predicted the delayed election date during a meeting with the Egyptian community in Doha, where he was attending an Arab summit. He said he "expected parliamentary elections would be held in October and that parliament would be in session before the year's end", according to the state news agency MENA.

Mr Morsi and his supporters have insisted that holding new parliamentary elections would help restore stability in Egypt, which has been racked by political battles for two years. But the umbrella opposition group, the National Salvation Front, has said the only way it will take part in elections is if Mr Morsi sacks his government and ceases what they describe as a campaign to install fellow members of the Muslim Brotherhood in critical positions across the state.

On Sunday, Mr Morsi said he suspected foreign powers and members of the old Mubarak regime were interfering with Egypt's political transition to prevent the country from becoming a strong democratic state.

"Whoever sticks his finger inside Egypt, I will cut it off," he said during a speech at a conference about women's rights, according to the Egypt Independent newspaper. "For six months, they have wanted to scare people, and threaten them with bankruptcy and starvation, and nothing has happened. Egypt has not and will not go bankrupt or fall."

bhope@thenational.ae