CAIRO (AP) — Hundreds of police and troops backed by armored vehicles set up a security ring around Egypt’s highest court ahead of a ruling Thursday on the country’s presidential election and the legitimacy of its Islamist-dominated parliament.
The Supreme Constitutional Court, housed in a Nile side structure resembling an ancient Egyptian temple, is expected to rule on whether Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, can contest the presidential runoff vote on Saturday and Sunday against Islamist Mohammed Morsi.
The two finished as top vote-getters from the first round of the election last month. The two-man race has polarized the nation, with many viewing Shafiq as an extension of the authoritarian Mubarak regime. Many also fear that Morsi will inject more religion into government and curtail freedoms if he wins.
Also on Thursday, the constitutional court will also decide whether to uphold a lower court’s verdict that the law that organized recent parliamentary elections was unconstitutional. If upheld, the legislature could be dissolved.
The troops, in full combat gear, and police kept several hundred protesters gathered outside the court at bay. The protesters chanted slogans against Shafiq, whose law-and-order platform has resonated with many Egyptians frustrated by the chaos engulfing much of the country since Mubarak’s ouster by a popular uprising 16 months ago.
“Shafiq, you scum, the revolution will continue,” they chanted.
Thursday’s rulings are fueling already heightened tension ahead of the weekend presidential vote.
Egypt’s Justice Ministry on Wednesday gave military police and intelligence agents the right to arrest civilians over a wide range of suspected crimes, including “resisting authorities” and disrupting traffic. The move sparked charges that the generals who took over from Mubarak wanted to extend their grip on power after handing over to civilians.
The decision would remain in effect until a new constitution is in place, something that could take anywhere between several months and a year or more.
On Tuesday, the Islamist-dominated parliament voted on an assembly to draft the document, but liberals boycotted the session. An earlier panel was disbanded by a court ruling and the present one already is challenged in court.
Both times liberals charged that Islamists were unfairly dominating the panel.
The ruling generals have been blamed for mismanaging the transitional period, killing protesters, torturing detainees and hauling at least 12,000 civilians for trial before military tribunals. They deny any wrongdoing and insist that they have no wish to stay in power.
On Thursday, the military took the unusual step of sending convoys of army vehicles to roam parts of Cairo with patriotic songs blaring from large speakers. Some of the vehicles had posters plastered on their side depicting a western man in combat fatigues carrying a blond toddler, with “the army and the people are one hand” inscribed.
They also distributed leaflets urging Egyptians to take part in the weekend election. On the other side of the leaflet is an image of the Giza Pyramids and long lines of voters from earlier elections.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Kaitlyn Hunt refuses plea offer, will go to court over high school relationship
- DHS admits "impossible" to control 3D-printed guns
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to talk peace
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11