Biden Praises Arab Spring on Same Day Egypt Dissolves Its Parliament

Patrick Burke | June 14, 2012 | 3:56pm EDT
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( - Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at a high school commencement ceremony in Virginia on Thursday, called the Arab Spring a “democratic movement”--on the same day that the Egyptian high court nullified the Islamist majority parliament and the Egyptian military assumed control of the legislature.

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“The democratic movement that swept across the Middle East,  the so called Arab Spring, began when a lowly fruit vendor set himself ablaze to protest a corrupt government, igniting a confrontation magnified by social media that literally set off a revolution that was waiting to happen for well over 200 years,” Biden said in his speech at Tallwood High School in Virginia Beach, Va.

In Cairo on Thursday, the Egyptian high court determined that the regulatory laws for parliamentary elections are invalid, meaning by law the current parliament is nullified and obligated to dissolve.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Egyptian parliament was dominated by Islamists.

An Egyptian army soldier directs protestors. (AP Photo)

"On January 23, the People’s Assembly held its inaugural session following what many international observers have deemed to be a somewhat successful, though not perfect, election for the lower house of parliament known as the People’s Assembly," the CRS reported.

"Of the 498 elected seats, Islamists of varying sorts control nearly 70%, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)-led Democratic Alliance controlling the most at 47% (235 total)," said CRS. "The Islamist Alliance-list led by the Salafist Nour Party came second with 25% (125 seats), followed by the Wafd at 8% and the liberal Egyptian bloc party list at 6.8%. The SCAF appointed 10 seats (mostly women and Coptic Christians). With an overwhelming majority of seats, most analysts anticipate that many legislative issues will be subject primarily to intra-Islamist competition between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists."

According to Egyptian state media, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has held central power in Egypt since President Hosni Mubarak resigned in February 2011, has reportedly assumed legislative authority in place of parliament.

It is not clear if the ruling, which reportedly approved the right of Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, to run for president, will throw a wrench in the presidential election runoff, set to take place Saturday and Sunday. Shafiq is pitted against the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi.

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