CAIRO - Egypt's military ruler has ordered the dissolution of parliament, an official said, in line with a court ruling which Islamists who dominate the assembly condemn as a coup by the generals who took charge when Hosni Mubarak was ousted.

The Supreme Constitutional Court declared the lower house election invalid on Thursday, dissolving a body seen as one of the few substantive gains from a messy and often bloody transition to democracy overseen by the army.

An official in the speaker of parliament's office told Reuters on Saturday that a letter had been sent a day earlier by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi ordering parliament dissolved and saying no member should be allowed to enter the building.

The Muslim Brotherhood, which secured the biggest bloc of seats in a vote that ended in January, warned of "dangerous days" ahead and said the political gains of the revolt that toppled Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011 could be wiped out.

The Brotherhood said parliament should only be dissolved by a popular referendum. The order to dissolve the assembly "represents a coup against the whole democratic process", the group said in a statement on the Facebook page of its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP).

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