Egypt Judges Challenge Morsi Over Orders to Reconvene Dissolved Parliament

Warning comes shortly after Egypt's highest court said its June ruling to dissolve the lower house of parliament was irreversible.

Egypt's judges demanded Monday that President Mohammed Morsi reverse his controversial decision to reinstate parliament or face "painful measures," in a sign of heightening tensions between the Islamist leader and the judiciary.

"We give the president a 36-hour ultimatum ... to also make a clear and unequivocal apology to the judges and the Egyptian people for defying the judicial authority," Ahmed al-Zend, head of the Judges' Club, a judicial union, said in Cairo. "If he did not respond, there would be painful measures, which will be announced in due course."

The warning came shortly after the Supreme Constitutional Court, Egypt's highest court, said its June ruling to dissolve the lower house of parliament was irreversible, overruling Morsi's decision to recall the chamber.

After an emergency meeting, the court said that its rulings were binding on all state institutions and authorities.

Morsi, who took office late last month, decreed Sunday that the Islamist-dominated chamber reconvene. He called for early parliamentary elections 60 days after a referendum to approve a constitution, which is currently being drafted.

The decision is seen as a challenge to the judiciary and the powerful Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which enforced the court's ruling.

The SCAF governed Egypt after the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak last year until Morsi's inauguration as the country's first freely elected civilian president.

The military said Monday in a statement that its decision to enforce the dissolution of parliament was only to implement the court's ruling.

"We are confident that all state institutions will respect all constitutional decrees," the SCAF said in the statement, its first official comment since Morsi ordered parliament to reconvene.

Footage on state television showed Morsi and the SCAF chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, attending a military cadet graduation in Cairo.

Morsi's decree strips the military of the legislative powers it granted itself after parliament's dissolution.

Soldiers guarding the parliament Monday allowed lawmakers into the building, state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported.

The legislature is due to officially resume sessions Tuesday, according to state media.

Some liberal deputies said they would stage a boycott. Morsi supporters said they would hold a mass rally Tuesday in Cairo's Tahrir Square in support of his decision. Morsi's Muslim
Brotherhood said it would participate in the rally.

Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, hold more than two-thirds of seats in parliament.

Legal experts have been split over whether Morsi has the authority to reinstate the legislature.

A general view of the first Egyptian parliament session after the revolution that ousted Mubarak