An Egyptian court threw the timetable for parliamentary elections into confusion on Wednesday, ordering the cancellation of President Mohamed Mursi's decree calling the vote and forcing a likely delay to polls due to start in April.
The Administrative Court's ruling deepened Egypt's political uncertainty at a time of social unrest and economic crisis, with the nation's foreign currency reserves at
critically low levels and the budget deficit soaring.The court said it had referred Egypt's amended electoral law, under which the lower house polls are due to be held, to the Supreme Constitutional Court for review.
Mursi's office said that it respected the court's decision, which was handed
down as the government says it wants to resume talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on a $4.8 billion loan to shore up Egypt's finances.A statement issued by Mursi's office said the presidency respected the court's decision, adding that it was thereby "upholding the value of the rule of law and the constitution and implementing the principle of the separation of powers".
The court made its ruling on technical grounds, saying in a statement that the Shura Council, Egypt's upper house of parliament, had not returned the amended electoral law to the Supreme Constitutional Court for final review before passing it.
The IMF is unlikely to want to grant a loan while there remains significant upheaval and lack of any form of political consensus, said Jason Tuvey, Assistant Economist at Capital Economics in London. "This uncertainty will further weigh on the Egyptian economy, which is already very weak, and possibly lead to further capital flight and greater pressure on the pound."