CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Wednesday ordered the suspension of parliamentary elections scheduled to begin in April, opening a legal battle likely to delay the vote and deepening the political crisis between the Islamist president and his opponents that has polarized the nation for months.
The new confusion surrounding the election underlined the paralysis gripping Egypt, between political deadlock, infighting among state institutions, a faltering economy and a wave of protests, strikes and clashes against President Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood that has spiraled for months across the country.
In the Suez Canal city of Port Said, scene of heavy clashes between protesters and police that have left six dead since Sunday, the violence entered a fourth day, dragging in the military. Protesters hurled stones at police firing tear gas, as army troops struggled to keep the two sides apart.
Morsi's Islamist supporters and some in the public exhausted by the turmoil have viewed the parliamentary elections as a step toward bringing some stability, but the mainly liberal and secular opposition had called a boycott of the vote, saying Morsi must first find some political consensus.
The new court ruling is unlikely to defuse the tension, bringing the dispute into the judiciary, which has repeatedly been used by the various sides in Egypt's political battles.
The ruling said the Islamist-dominated Parliament had improperly pushed through a law organizing the elections without allowing the Supreme Constitutional Court to review it to ensure it conforms with the constitution.