Egypt's highest court has ordered the country's Islamist-dominated parliament dissolved, saying its election about six months ago was unconstitutional.
The Supreme Constitutional Court ruled Thursday that a third of the legislature was elected illegally. As a result, it says in its explanation of the ruling, "the makeup of the entire chamber is illegal and, consequently, it does not legally stand."
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The explanation was carried by Egypt's official news agency and confirmed to The Associated Press by one of the court's judges, Maher Sami Youssef. The ruling means that new elections for the entire parliament will have to be held.
But later on Thursday the ruling military council said that the presidential election run-off will continue as scheduled this weekend, according to the state news agency reported.
"The ruling regarding parliament includes the dissolution of the lower house of parliament in its entirety because the law upon which the elections were held is contrary to rules of the constitution," said the court's head Farouk Soltan, speaking two days before another election to pick a new president.
Soltan said the ruling was binding on all institutions of state, adding that it would be up to the executive to call for the new election that he said would take place.
A senior Muslim Brotherhood politician said Egypt would enter "a dark tunnel" if the Islamist-dominated parliament was dissolved.
"If parliament is dissolved, the country will enter a dark tunnel - the coming president will face neither a parliament nor a constitution," Erian told Reuters by telephone. "There is a state of confusion and many questions."
Court: Shafiq can stay in race
In a separate ruling, the court said Hosni Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, could stay in the presidential race, rejecting a law passed by parliament last month that barred prominent figures from the old regime from running for office.
Shafiq will go head-to-head on Saturday and Sunday in a runoff against Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's strongest political group.
The ruling said the legislation was not based on "objective grounds" and "constitutes a violation of the principle of equality," leading to discrimination on "illogical grounds."
The Brotherhood stands to lose the most by the rulings since it controls just under half of all seats in the legislature and is likely not to do as well in the next election. Its popularity has declined since the legislative election over its failure to translate its parliamentary domination into real political power and its perception as a power hungry group more preoccupied with its own interests than national ones.
Reuters and AP contributed to this report
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