Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi on Sunday called the Islamist-dominated parliament to reconvene, in defiance of a military decree dissolving the legislature on the basis of a ruling by the country's highest court.
The Associated Press reported that Morsi’s decree also called for new parliamentary elections to be held within 60 days of the adoption of a new constitution for the country.
In the first sign of an imminent crisis, noted AP, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces held an "emergency meeting" shortly after Morsi's decree was announced by the official news agency.
The generals, said the agency, met to "review and discuss the consequences" of Morsi's decision. A separate report said that the Supreme Constitutional Court, the tribunal that dissolved the legislature last month, will meet on Monday to discuss Morsi's decision.
The court ruling, which came just two days before the presidential elections in Egypt, said that a third of the legislature's members were illegally elected, but only ordered its dissolution in the verdict's legal citation. Acting on the court's ruling, the generals decreed the dissolution of parliament, angering the Muslim Brotherhood.
The basis of the ruling is that political parties breached the principle of equality by fielding candidates to run for the third of the chamber's seats set aside for independents.
The text of Morsi's decree made no mention of the Supreme Constitutional Court's ruling, saying it was revoking the military's own decree to disband the legislature. The military decree came when the generals were in power, acting as a collective presidency.
Brotherhood leaders welcomed Morsi's decision, AP noted, but the country's leading pro-reform campaigner, Nobel peace Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said it undermined the country's judicial authority.
ElBaradei was quoted by AP as having written on his Twitter account that Morsi’s decree "ushered Egypt into a constitutional coma and a conflict between the state's branches."
Morsi’s decree came several hours after it was announced that United States President Barack Obama invited him to conduct an official visit to the U.S. in September. Deputy Secretary of State William Perez said he delivered the invitation to Cairo during his meetings with the president on Sunday.
This would be the first visit ever to the U.S. by a member of the Muslim Brotherhood in an official capacity.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to make a two-day stop in Egypt next week, her first since Morsi took power. Her last visit to Egypt was in March 2011, when she toured Cairo's Tahrir Square in the wake of the protests that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak.