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Egypt

Egyptian court orders cancellation of April elections

An Egyptian court has ordered the cancellation of Egypt's April legislative elections. The amended electoral law that helped push the election date through has also been referred to a constitutional court for review.

An Egyptian administrative court on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a decree by Islamist President Mohammed Morsi for parliamentary elections to start April 22.

The court said in a statement that the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament, did not return the amended electoral law to the Supreme Constitutional Court for final review before passing it.

The court has also referred the electoral law itself to the Supreme Constitutional Court to determine whether it conforms to the constitution.

The government can appeal the administrative court ruling.

The decision further snarls the political crisis in Egypt, which is deeply divided between Morsi's mainly Islamist supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood movement, and a liberal-led opposition.

Under Morsi's decree, the lower house polls were due to be held in a four stage vote. The vote would be held in phases in different regions due to a shortage of poll supervisors. The opposition had called a boycott of the elections.

The election dates came after the adoption of an Islamist-backed constitution in December, which was widely criticized by the opposition and international watchdogs for failing to protect key rights.

Meanwhile, unrest in the city of Port Said has continued for a fourth day with protesters battling police. They are demanding the release of prisoners sentenced to death in connection with a football stadium riot in which more than 70 people died last year.

Port Said has been a focus of violence since January, with people staging angry protests over the sentencing.

hc/rc (Reuters, AFP)