AL MASRY AL YOUM (Egypt), BBC NEWS, AL JAZEERA
CAIRO - The Egyptian capital remained tense Friday as pro-democracy activists and Islamists called for massive protests after a pair of judicial rulings by the country's Supreme Constitutional Court have again put both civil order and longterm democracy at risk.
One day ahead of the opening of polls in a landmark presidential runoff election, some of Egypt's "Arab Spring" leaders called for a rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square dubbed: "Together against the smooth military coup," Al Jazeera reported.
Sixteen months after the fall of longtime President Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's highest court confirmed on Thursday the legitamcy of former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik's presidential candidacy, despite his direct ties to the Mubarak regime, and invalidated a third of the seats in the lower house of the Islamist-dominated Parliament installed earlier this year.
The rulings threaten to destabilize an already fragile political process that pits the two dominant forces in Egypt, the army and the Muslim Brotherhood, against each other.
The Constitutional Court ruled that some of the parliamentary election rules from the legislative race earlier this year were unconstitutional. Specifically, it ruled that the seats attributed through an individual, "first-past-the-post" system were invalid because candidates who were supposed to be independent were sometimes members of established parties, Reuters reported.
According to the Al Masry Al Youm's affiliate, Egypt Independent, the ruling effectively means that the entire lower house of the Egyptian Parliament will be dissolved, although what comes next is unclear.
The Court also ruled that former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik was eligible to run, striking down a "political isolation law" that would have barred him from the presidential race. Shafik, seen as the army's anointed candidate, is up against Mohamed Morsi, who represents the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The BBC reported that demonstrators gathered for the ruling and demanded that Shafik be disqualified, as opposition leaders warned that the rulings amounted to a "coup."
Overheard in Cairo: "How can anything be unconstitutional if there's no constitution?" #Egypt Jared Malsin (@jmalsin) June 14, 2012
Patrick deHahn (@patrickdehahn) June 14, 2012
The secound round of the Egyptian presidential race will take place this coming weekend.
(This article was updated at 12:35 p.m. Paris time)