A law that would prohibit those currently in detention and those convicted of a crime from participating in public life was struck down on Saturday by the State Council.
The amendment, created by the cabinet, aimed to bar jailed former presidents Hosni Mubarak and Mohamed Morsi from running for president in the upcoming presidential race, according to state-run Al-Ahram.
Someone who has been sentenced for a criminal act without the chance of appeal should not be allowed to run for office, said Eman Mubarak, lawyer and director of the rights group the Association for Free Thought and Expression (AFTE). However, he said, it “should not apply to political prisoners, as it limits freedoms.”
Ahmed Ezzat, another AFTE attorney said international standards dictate that those who are detained, but have not been convicted of a crime, should be allowed to run for president.
“Morsi, who has not been convicted of anything, should be able to run,” said Ezzat, adding that Mubarak, who has been convicted of complicity in the killing of protesters during the 25 January Revolution, among other things, should not.
Too often, Egyptian authorities “abuse international standards to keep candidates from running,” Ezzat said.
The current law, established in 1956, prevents those whose assets have been frozen, those who have been hospitalised for mental illness, and those who have declared bankruptcy within the last five years from running for office.
The dates of the presidential elections have not been officially announced, but are expected to occur sometime in mid-April.
Speculation has run rampant that Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will run for the presidency, while Nasserist candidate Hamdeen Sabahi has already announced his intention to run. Retired army officer Sami Anan – who faces corruption charges – has also declared his bid for the presidency.
The 2012 parliament, dominated by members of Morsi’s Freedom and Justice Party, passed an article attempting to ban members of the National Democratic Party, the former party of the Mubarak regime, from running from president.
The text of the law, according to Al-Ahram, said, “Those who held the offices of the president of the republic, vice president, prime minister, and chairman of the (now defunct) ruling National Democratic Party or its secretary-general or a member of its political politburo or secretariat-general during the period prior to 11 February 2011 (the day Mubarak resigned from office) shall be prevented from exercising their political rights for ten consecutive years.”
The article was later struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Constitutional Court.