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Egypt court to hear appeal on Sunday over vote ruling

Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi gives a speech at the Koerber foundation for social challenge in Berlin January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio B
Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi gives a speech at the Koerber foundation for social challenge in Berlin January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Fabrizio B

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court will hear an appeal on Sunday against a ruling that led to the cancellation of parliamentary elections called by President Mohamed Mursi, the latest hurdle in Egypt's tortuous political transition.

A body representing the state said it had lodged an appeal with the Administrative Court against its ruling last week which canceled Mursi's decision to hold the four-stage parliamentary vote from April 22 onwards.

Mursi and his Islamist backers in the Muslim Brotherhood are keen that the lower house election should go ahead quickly, seeing it as the final stage of the transition that followed Hosni Mubarak's removal from power more than two years ago.

But the Islamists' secular-minded opponents, who had planned to boycott the election, have welcomed the prospect of a delay, saying it might allow for consensus around a new election law. They had accused the Islamists of drafting a law to suit themselves.

The March 6 ruling canceled Mursi's decree on technical grounds, saying the upper house of parliament should have returned the amended election law to the Supreme Constitutional Court for approval.

"We could be looking at a drawn-out process if the ruling stands," said Yasser El-Shimy, Egypt analyst for the International Crisis Group. "We could be potentially looking at Egypt not having a parliament for six to eight months."

Explaining why it had decided to appeal against the ruling, the state lawsuits authority said the ruling contained "legal mistakes and flaws that deviate it from all, set legal foundations", the state news agency reported.

The presidency and the election commission separately said they had not lodged the appeal, denying a report by the pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera saying they were responsible.

Later, the presidency issued a statement saying it was looking forward to the court hearing the appeal.

It stressed, however, its respect for the ruling, and said it was also looking forward to the Islamist-dominated upper house of parliament completing a new election law.

Lawmakers in the house decided this week to draft an entirely new law, seeing this as a potentially faster route to holding the election than waiting for the Supreme Constitutional Court to approve the amended law.

The previous lower house of parliament, led by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, was dissolved last June after a ruling by the Supreme Constitutional Court that had found the election rules illegal.

(Writing by Tom Perry and Marwa Awad; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Pravin Char)

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