Urgent Matters Court rules against previous verdict annulling “Red Sea islands” agreement

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The Cairo Court for Urgent Matters nullified on Sunday a previous court ruling by the Administrative Court annulling the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation agreement that aims to transfer sovereignty of the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia.

This verdict came in favour of transferring the islands to the Kingdom.

On 16 January, the Administrative Court made a historical verdict, annulling the islands agreement and resuming Egyptian sovereignty over the islands.

This verdict came during the final court session of the government’s appeal against the preliminary court’s ruling that also annulled the agreement.

Khaled Ali, initial lawyer who brought the agreement to court, commented on the verdict, saying that “it’s expected; however, the Urgent Matters Court is not authorised to look into such a case and is not the entity that should annul or suspend any court ruling, as this is the Administrative Court’s duty.”

The lawyer also pointed out that the case has been disputed in two courts so far, which led to a conflict of jurisdiction between the courts, which the Constitutional Court should resolve. The Constitutional Court is the entity that can resolve such a dispute, determine who the competent court is, and then determine the enforceable judgment.

In a third attempt by the government to activate the agreement, there is already a lawsuit for the case in the Constitutional Court. This court will support its verdict in accordance with constitutional articles.

Despite having two opposing verdicts over the agreement, there are no comments, statements, or responses from the cabinet or presidency regarding them; the disputes are, therefore, taking place in the courts without any official stances. However, parliament is scheduled to discuss the agreement.

The agreements were rejected by over 100 members of parliament and other politicians during parliamentary discussions, as they believe that this would be unconstitutional and that the state should respect the judiciary.

The opponents of the agreement supported their stance by referring to Article 190, which stipulates that “the State Council is an autonomous judicial body, and it shall have the exclusive jurisdiction to settle administrative disputes and disputes relevant to the execution of all its rulings.” This implies that the State Council’s court is considered the highest judicial entity in the country.

The maritime demarcation agreement was signed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia during King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud’s visit to Egypt last April.

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