A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, April 22, 2013

Judiciary, MB in Egypt Approaching Showdown?

Last Friday, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt held demonstrations calling for a "purge" of the judiciary, as the continuing series of confrontations between the courts and the Presidency deepen. Having already dissolved the Lower House of Parliament last year, the courts are considering the constitutionality of the Shura Council, the Upper House now serving as the sole legislature, while other court rulings have put off the Parliamentary elections, originally due this month, until fall at the earliest. The Shura Council is meanwhile debating a new Judiciary Law that would force the retirement of as many as 3,000 judges.

Meanwhile, the government has essentially ignored court rulings against its appointment of the Prosecutor General and another ruling that sought to remove the Prime Minister. Justice Minister Ahmad Mekki has submitted his resignation, though it is unclear if it will be accepted; a Cabinet reshuffle is expected in the next few days. [Update: Mekki reportedly will not resign and Morsi has reportedly suspended the Judicial Authority Law after talks with the judges.]

Along with the Cabinet reshuffle, the government is expected to name new governors for the Governorates; if it seeks to name primarily Brotherhood members, it is likely to deepen the confrontations; it could however signal a willingness to work with the opposition. President Morsi's international travels have yet to provide the sort of deus ex machina solutions to the country's economic problems he seems to have hoped for, and the failure to address the economic crisis further deepens the political stalemate.

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