Egypt top court postpones rulings on charter, Senate
CAIRO - Egypt's top court postponed on Tuesday key rulings on the validity of the Islamist-dominated Senate and of the committee that drew up a controversial constitution approved by referendum last month.
It will rule on the constitutional panel on February 3 and has referred the legality of the upper house to its adivsory body, the official MENA agency reported.
Dozens of demonstrators had staged a sit-in in Cairo overnight outside the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC) on the banks of the Nile, as riot police formed a cordon around the building.
Two-thirds of the Senate, the 270-member upper house known as the Shura Council, were elected in a vote early last year, with one third appointed by President Mohamed Morsi in December.
Following several lawsuits arguing there were irregularities in the mechanics of the election, the court is to decide whether or not the upper house -- which was given temporary legislative powers after the dissolution of the lower house -- is legal.
The court will also rule on the legality of an Islamist-dominated panel that drafted the country's constitution which is at the heart of the nation’s worst political crisis since the overthrow nearly two years ago of president Hosni Mubarak.
The opposition argues that the panel failed to represent all Egyptians as it was boycotted by liberals, leftists and Christians.
The charter has divided Egypt, pitting Islamist President Morsi and his backers against the opposition which includes secularists, leftists and Christians as well as Muslims.
"No to Muslim Brotherhood terrorism," read placards held up by protesters.
"The Muslim Brotherhood constitution is void. Mohamed Morsi is void," they chanted.
In theory, the new constitution protects the Senate from dissolution until a new People's Assembly is elected, adding further confusion to the legal chaos plaguing the country.
The two cases were scheduled to be heard on December 2 but pro-Morsi protesters gathered in front of the Supreme Constitutional Court preventing judges from entering the court and prompting the court to suspend its work.
The latest political crisis was ignited by a decree issued by Morsi granting him sweeping powers and making his decisions immune from judicial review.
He later backtracked on the decree but rushed through the constitution which critics say fails to protect key rights and allows for varying interpretations of Islamic law.