An Egyptian court suspended the parliamentary elections Wednesday, which had been scheduled to start next month, deepening the political uncertainty in the country reeling under the pressure of social unrest and economic crisis.
The Cairo Administrative Court said Egypt's amended electoral law, under which the lower house polls were due to be held, needed to be reviewed by the Supreme Constitutional Court, Reuters news agency reported.
The court said the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, failed to submit the new electoral law for Supreme Constitutional Court’s review after amending it in February and instead sent it to president for ratification.
President Mohamed Morsi said he respected the ruling and that an appeal was unlikely.
“The Presidency respects Administrative Court ruling to suspend Lower House Elections and refer Elections Law back to the Constitutional Court,” a tweet by the official Twitter account of the president’s office read.
Since Egyptians voted in December in favor of a controversial new constitution, the nation’s political timetable requires that the election process begins within two months.
However, the Islamist president’s decree last month calling for elections, to be held in four stages over two months and starting Apr. 22, was sharply criticized by the liberal opposition with a key opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei warning that the “completely polarized” circumstances risked setting the country on a "road to total chaos and instability.”
The main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front (NSF) of which ElBaradei is a member, subsequently said it would boycott the polls because the electoral law favored the president's Islamist allies.
Morsi's supporters had said that delaying elections, protesting and boycotting were affecting Egypt's ability to lure foreign investors and tourists to revive the worsening economy.
The opposition welcomed Wednesday's ruling saying it was further proof that the president and his parent party, the Muslim Brotherhood, were mismanaging the country and that they were “intoxicated with power.”
“The mess continues courtesy of epic failure of governance,” ElBaradei wrote on Twitter in English.
“Ignorance and manipulation of the essence of the rule of law (Constitutional Declaration, the Constitution and electoral law) are characteristics of a fascist state. The President continues to talk about the legitimacy!” he added in Arabic.
On Wednesday, the security chief of violence-hit Port Said, where dozens of people have been killed in mass riots beginning late January, was dismissed, Egypt’s Al Ahram newspaper reported.
Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim replaced Port Said security chief Mohsen Radi with Radi's deputy, Sayid Gad.
A court ruling Jan. 26, issuing death sentences for 39 people from Port Said for their roles in a football game riot last year that left 70 people dead, ignited the violence. At least, four civilians and two security officers were killed there this week in clashes between the police and protesters.