Security Forces Surround Parliament in Egypt, Escalating Tensions
Egypt’s military rulers formally dissolved Parliament Friday, state media reported, and security forces were stationed around the building on orders to bar anyone, including lawmakers, from entering the chambers without official notice.
The developments, reported on the Web site of the official newspaper Al Ahram, further escalated tensions over court rulings on Thursday that invalidated modern Egypt’s first democratically elected legislature. Coming on the eve of a presidential runoff this weekend, they thrust the nation’s troubled transition to democracy since the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak last year into grave doubt.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group that dominates the Parliament, disputed the court’s ruling and its authority to dissolve the legislature. Saad el Katatni, the Brotherhood-picked Parliament speaker, accused the military-led government on Friday of orchestrating the ruling.
The timing also seemed like a transparent attempt to undermine the Islamists just as Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood is set to compete in the presidential runoff election against Ahmed Shafik, a former air force general and Mr. Mubarak’s last prime minister. But the Brotherhood issued a statement Friday exhorting its followers to go to the polls and “isolate the representative of the former regime through the ballot box.”
The authorities set up checkpoints overnight and contingents of riot police were moving around the city to prepare for any disturbances.