Good News: Egypt’s Parliament Briefly Convened

I could not be more pleased with the resolve of Egyptian President Mursi in calling the parliament into session this weekend, or for the members when they met.  The military is setting up a most dangerous situation if they work to undermine the will of the Arab Street.

Egypt’s parliament has briefly convened, despite the ruling military council ordering it to be dissolved.

The country’s new President, Mohammed Mursi, had ordered the assembly to meet in defiance of the ruling.

Earlier, the council said the decision to dissolve parliament must be upheld. The military closed parliament last month after a supreme court ruling.

Its latest intervention is seen by some as a challenge and warning to Mr Mursi, who was sworn in only a week ago.

It could be the first confrontation between the military and the president since Mr Mursi’s election.

Speaker Saad al-Katatni said that by holding the assembly, MPs were not contradicting the dissolution ruling “but looking at a mechanism for the implementation of the ruling of the respected court. There is no other agenda today”.

Egypt’s political crisis has moved from fist fight, to a rather more subtle game of chess. By reconvening parliament, President Mursi went directly against the orders of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which dissolved it.

So it is an assertion of his new power as president. But it could also end up being a fairly meaningless gesture. Any laws parliament now passes are likely to be challenged, and quite probably struck down, by the courts.

So eventually it may suit everyone for parliament to be dissolved and new elections to be held, after a new constitution has been agreed.

In the meantime, both the president and the military will want to show that they are in charge. The difference this time is that it looks as if the struggle will be played out mostly in the courtrooms and the backrooms of politics, rather than on the streets. For that, at least, Egyptians may be grateful.

The MPs approved Mr Katatni’s proposal that the parliament seek legal advice from a high appeals court on how to implement the supreme court’s ruling. He then adjourned the session.