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Egypt's upper house convenes, in first act of state under new constitution

Egypt's upper house of parliament has convened in its first session after the passing of the country's Islamist-backed constitution, the first action by a state institution in accordance with a document whose legitimacy is still contested by the opposition.

The Shura Council was swearing in 90 new members appointed by President Mohammed Morsi Wednesday. The charter, approved by 63.8 percent in a two-round referendum that ended Saturday, gives the traditionally toothless upper house full legislative powers until elections for a new lower house is called within two months.

The Islamist-dominated council is expected to draft a law regulating upcoming parliamentary elections. Other items on the agenda may include laws on protests and the media.

The opposition says the constitutional process was rushed and the referendum marked by widespread irregularities.