The Administrative Court on Monday rejected the government’s appeal against the court’s previous verdict which had nullified the Egyptian-Saudi maritime demarcation deal. This verdict confirmed Egyptian sovereignty over the islands of Tiran and Sanafir and asserted the nullification of the agreement.
The demarcation deal had sought to transfer the sovereignty of the Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia.
Deputy of the State Council Ahmed El-Shazly, who announced the verdict, said that the government did not present any document proving the Saudi sovereignty over the islands, and that the court rejected the appeal on consensus.
Prior to the court session, security presence around the courthouse was high, as dozens of security forces were deployed. Online videos showed dozens celebrating inside the State Council following the verdict. In the beginning journalists, lawyers, and citizens were prevented from attending the court session.
The verdict raised questions of how the parliament will deal with the agreement. Last December, the cabinet approved and forwarded the agreement to the parliament for discussion. The cabinet’s move was seen as a violation of the State Council’s initial verdict in June, confirming Egyptian sovereignty over the islands
In response to these questions, parliamentary members (MPs) confirmed that the verdict annulled the agreement and made it invalid for discussion.
MP Haitham El-Hariri told Daily News Egypt: “There is no deal. If the parliament opposes the verdict this will be a violation of the law.”
Also, Diaa El-Din Dawod, member in the parliamentary Legislative Committee said that the agreement does not exist and the parliament is not supposed to discuss it.
Moreover, legislative and legal expert Eslam El-Eslamboly said the parliament should not discuss the agreement, as it became technically inexistent.
Contrary to this, the parliamentary Support Egypt Coalition said that the verdict will not change the fact that the parliament is still authorised to discuss international treaties and conventions in accordance to the Constitution.
Moreover, MPs in support of the Saudi agreement said that they will wait until the Constitutional Court rules whether or not the judiciary has the authority to decide on the sovereignty of the islands.
The government filed a lawsuit in August to appeal the implementation of the Administrative Court’s initial ruling. This appeal was filed by the government in August to stop the implementation of the Administrative Court’s ruling on 21 June. This appeal stated that the judiciary is not authorised to look into such agreements.
The next Constitutional Court session to view this appeal is on 12 February.
Lawyer Malek Adly, one of the plaintiffs of the lawsuit against the agreement, told Daily News Egypt: “The government should be investigated as it propagated through verbal and written means that the islands belong to Saudi Arabia. This is considered ceding part of Egyptian land, and also a violation of the State Council’s preliminary verdict.”
“The ministers who made this false propaganda should be held accountable and the general prosecutor has to take action against them,” he added.
On 8 April, the government concluded the demarcation deal that sought to transfer the sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia during an official visit by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. There was no previous mention in the media regarding any discussion between both countries prior to the visit. Saudi Arabia has so far not reacted to the court rulings.
Two weeks ago, a group of 12 protesters were arrested while organising a rally against the decision to forward the agreement to parliament. This group was added to the toll of the detention lists in the “Red Sea islands” case. All detainees are charged with unlicensed protesting and spreading false information.
Previously in April 2016, more than 250 protesters were arrested across the nation for protesting against the agreement. There are still people detained and also facing trials in different governorates. The protests in April against the agreement caused numerous security raids of houses and coffee shops in downtown Cairo to arrest activists.