Cairo: On the eve of the presidential run-off, Egypt was plunged into fresh turmoil with Islamists denouncing the Supreme Court verdict dissolving the lower house of the Parliament dominated by them, warning that the move could reverse gains of the revolution.
In the two-day run-off beginning tomorrow around 50 million Egyptian voters will choose the country's first democratically elected president with former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq taking on Muslim Brotherhood-backed candidate Mohamed Morsi.
But that historic milestone has been overshadowed by rising concern about yesterday's Supreme Constitutional Court ruling dissolving the parliament.
The court decreed that the rules governing the recent parliamentary elections were invalid. It tossed out a popularly elected parliament in which about half the seats were controlled by Islamists.
The court also invalidated a law that would have barred Shafiq from running based on his affiliation with former President Hosni Mubarak, who stepped down after weeks of street protests in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood has warned that Egypt's fragile democratic gains are under threat, after the surprise court ruling overturning last year's parliamentary elections, the BBC reported.
Egypt could see "dangerous" days ahead if power is returned to those linked to the previous regime, it said.
It's unclear what authority the new president will hold.
Egypt has no constitution to guide the government or clearly define the president's authority.
But the winner of the run-off election could be in a powerful position to deal directly with Egypt's military rulers, who are said to be planning to issue an interim constitution while a new permanent document is written and a new parliament elected.
The court decisions raised the talk of more street protests amid concerns that Egypt's ruling military council is consolidating power and does not intend to hand over authority to a popularly elected civilian government, as it has said it will do.
Still, preparations for the election were going ahead.
About 50 million polling cards have been distributed to polling places, according to a statement from Hatem Begato, the secretary general of the Higher Presidential Elections Commissions.
Egyptians living outside the country finished voting on June 9, according to the commission.
First Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 21:00