An Egyptian court has ruled that members of ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s former party should be barred from running in a parliamentary election that starts this month, possibly opening the way to a host of legal challenges to candidate lists.
The administrative court in the northern Delta city of Mansoura decided late on Thursday that members of the now disbanded National Democratic Party (NDP) should not be allowed to join the list of candidates, state news agency MENA reported.
Many former NDP members have registered to run as independents or on other party lists in the first election Egypt has held since a popular uprising overthrew Mubarak in February.
The court ruling could unleash a wave of copy-cat suits elsewhere in Egypt before November 28, when the first of three rounds of voting for the lower house takes place.
“Those who have wasted the rights and freedoms of others, restricted democracy … and forged the will of the people in all elections for the past 30 years … have no right to demand the rights they denied the people,” the court said.
Former NDP members have set up at least six new parties and many have joined older conservative parties, angering activists who want to ensure that “counter-revolutionary” forces are kept out of the assembly tasked with writing Egypt’s constitution.
Protesters who toppled Mubarak have been demanding for months that a law barring anyone found guilty of corrupting political life be issued and complain that the ruling army generals are dragging their feet.
The military council had promised to issue such a law within days to curb the influence of Mubarak’s NDP, but its draft version has a narrower scope than the court ruling.
“This is a historic verdict. This will apply to anyone proven to be a member of the former party,” activist and human rights lawyer Gamal Eid said, adding that NDP candidates were likely to appeal against it in a higher administrative court.
The Mansoura court was ruling on a case in that province and its wider applicability is not yet clear, but analyst Amr Hasham Rabie said it would be seen as a precedent elsewhere.
“It is likely to tempt a lot of lawyers and competing candidates. You should expect reshuffling of the whole election race and the breakdown of party lists,” he said.
The Mansoura court orders the local electoral committee to stop accepting candidacy papers from former NDP members, but asks a judicial panel to decide whether those already accepted should be cancelled.
A legal source said the High Administrative Court was likely to examine the Mansoura court ruling and possibly restrict it to ensure it cannot be applied to anyone ever linked to the NDP.