Egypt court recuses panel presiding over case of Egyptian-Saudi accord

Saturday 27-08-2016 12:16 PM

Protest at the Lawyers Syndicate on Apr. 14, 2016 against the transfer of the Red Sea islands Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia

CAIRO, Aug 27 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's Supreme Administrative Court accepted on Saturday a request to recuse the panel reviewing an appeal against the annulment of the maritime border demarcation agreement between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

According to the court's reasoning, the panel "lacked the required impartiality" to consider the appeal before it. 

The agreement , which was signed at a time when Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz was on his first official visit to Cairo in April, stipulates that two strategic islands, Tiran and Sanafir, fall within Saudi territorial waters.

The administrative court annulled the agreement last June and affirmed that the two islands fall within Egypt's borders.

The State Lawsuits authority, the body representing the government in legal cases, had appealed the verdict before the Supreme Administrative Court which suspended looking into the appeal, pending a request filed to recuse the judge.

On Aug 15, the State Lawsuits authority challenged the annulment of the agreement before the Supreme Constitutional Court (SCC).

The government maintains that both islands belong to Saudi Arabia.

The agreement has stirred controversy with critics accusing President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of "selling Egypt" to Saudi Arabia in return for aid.

Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in rare protests on April 15 and April 25, amid a police campaign of mass arrests of activists opposed to the islands’ transfer.

Located at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba, the two islands are strategically significant as they both control maritime activity in the Gulf.

Tiran Island is located in the Gulf of al-Aqaba, about 5 or 6 km from the Sinai Peninsula, and it has a total area of about 80 square km. Sanafir Island lies to the east of Tiran with a total area of 33 square km.

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