CAIRO -- Egypt's highest court insisted yesterday its ruling to invalidate the Islamist-dominated parliament was final and binding, setting up a showdown with the country's newly elected president after he ordered lawmakers to return.
The announcement on state TV came a day after President Mohammed Morsi recalled the legislators, defying the powerful military's decision to dismiss parliament after the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that a third of its members had been elected illegally.
However, both sides appeared together yesterday at a military graduation ceremony. Morsi sat between the head of the armed forces, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and Chief of Staff Sami Anan. Tantawi and Morsi exchanged a few words while seated on the reviewing stand, but the three sat grim-faced for most of the ceremony.
The powerful military, meanwhile, delivered a thinly veiled warning to Morsi, saying it trusted that all state institutions will respect the constitutional declarations issued by the military during its 16 months in power since the fall of Hosni Mubarak. The declarations are an interim measure after suspension of the constitution in effect under Mubarak's 29-year rule. A new and permanent constitution has yet to be drafted.
The last of the two declarations, issued June 17, gave the military far-reaching powers after handing over control to Morsi on June 30.
The statement said the military would continue to support "legitimacy, the constitution and the law" -- language that means the generals are likely to oppose taking the judiciary's side in its tussle with Morsi over the fate of parliament.
The decision by the judges to stand by their June 14 ruling came in an emergency meeting, even as the speaker of the dissolved legislature, Saad el-Katatni, called for parliament's more powerful lower chamber, the People's Assembly, to convene today. The court's ruling did not cover parliament's upper chamber, which is largely toothless.
Morsi and el-Katatni are longtime members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist group long at odds with the military and, with other Islamists, holds a majority in parliament.