Egypt's highest court Thursday declared invalid the
Islamist-led lower house of parliament and allowed Hosny Mubarak's
last premier to stand in the presidential election run-off, deepening
a power struggle between Islamists and remnants of the old regime.
The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that one third seats in the People's Assembly were invalid, saying the electoral law allowed members of political parties to contest seats reserved for independents under the constitution.
It also ruled that Ahmed Shafiq, a former air force general and Mubarak's last prime minister, could run in the presidential election run-off on Saturday and Sunday. He faces Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned under Mubarak.
The ruling is seen as a blow to the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists who swept to power in a parliamentary election earlier this year, winning some two-thirds of seats in the upper and lower houses.
It declared as unconstitutional a law approved in April that bans officials from the Mubarak era to run for office.
Morsi came ahead of Shafiq in the first round of the presidential election, raising fears that if he won the run-off Islamists would control the government as well as the legislative.
Shafiq's candidacy has also been controversial. He is seen as a symbol of the Mubarak regime and a possible election victory would undermine the revolution that forced Mubarak to resign more than a year ago.
Shafiq welcomed the ruling as "historic", saying that it showed that "fear-mongering can't guarantee results."
The Muslim Brotherhood said that Morsi would remain in the presidential race, but declined to comment on the decision to dissolve parliament, state television reported.
However, the group's website quoted Brotherhood lawmaker Mohammed al-Beltagi as saying that the ruling was the latest stage in "a comprehensive coup that is wiping out the 16 noblest months in Egypt's history," referring to the period since Mubarak's overthrow.
Meanwhile, the ruling military went into an emergency meeting to discuss the rulings, state television reported.
Protesters also began gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest against the decision to allow Shafiq to stand.
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