Egypt's new president Mohammad Mursi ordered a parliament dominated by his Islamist party to reconvene, challenging the authority of the generals who had dissolved the assembly in line with a court order.
"President Mursi ordered the reconvening of the elected parliament to hold sessions," according to a presidential statement read out by Mursi's aide Yasser Ali.
Mursi's decree appeared to catch off guard the generals who handed power to him on June 30. State media said the army's supreme council held an emergency meeting and a council member, declining to be named, told Reuters the generals had not been given prior warning.
The military had been running Egypt since Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year. But, shortly before the handover to the elected president, the army put some curbs on the presidency and gave itself legislative powers.
The president's decision hands those powers back to a parliament that was led by his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood.
After a little more than a week in office, Mursi's move highlights the power struggle likely to define his term.
Saad Husseini, a senior member of the Brotherhood, said he did not believe the military would challenge Mursi's decree.
"We are confident the military council will not drag the country into a political whirlpool," he said.
In his decree, Mursi called for an early parliamentary election for a new assembly within 60 days of the nation approving a new constitution, which has still to be drafted.
That suggested a possible attempt at compromise by indicating the assembly, criticized by some for a poor initial performance and dissolved by court order just months after it was elected, would not serve a full four-year term.
The Supreme Constitutional Court called an emergency session on Monday to review the Mursi's move, the court's deputy Maher Sami told the state news agency MENA, signaling there could be a prolonged legal wrangle.
The Supreme Constitutional Court ordered the lower house of parliament dissolved on June 14 after finding fault with the election process. The generals implemented the decision two days later, a move the Brotherhood has challenged in another court.
The army also issued a decree outlining presidential powers on June 17, the last day of the run-off election.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by moqawama.org