25 November 2012

Egypt's Divide Over Morsi's Presidential Decree Continues to Ferment

Photo: Xinhua/STR
An Egyptian protester hurls stones at riot police. Egypt's powerful Muslim Brotherhood called nationwide demonstrations in support of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in his showdown with the judges over the path to a new constitution.

Egypt's domestic divisions over a series of controversial presidential decrees continued to ferment as the nation's Judges' Club on Saturday called for a strike of all courts and prosecutors across the country.

Morsi decided on Thursday to replace Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud with Talat Ibrahim Abdullah as the country's new prosecutor general. He also issued a constitutional declaration, which rules that all laws, decrees and constitutional declarations issued by the president since he came into office on June 30 are final and unchallengeable by any body.

Morsi's actions, which would shield the president from judicial review until a new parliament is elected in an election expected early next year, has triggered controversies among political parties and the general public, as well as violence in the streets.

During its extraordinary general assembly on Saturday, the Judges' Club, a body representing judges across Egypt, tried to enforce Morsi to cancel the newly-issued presidential decree, the official MENA news agency reported.

Mahmoud said at the meeting the presidential decree that sacked him aimed at disturbing the judicial power, and he will resort to justice on Morsi's order. Ahmed al-Zend, the head of the club, reiterated the club's rejection of the new constitutional declaration and its enforcement.

Echoing the judges, civil groups led by former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, and ex-presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi, Amr Mussa and Abdelmoneim Abul Futuh, said there would be no dialogue with Morsi until the decree is rescinded.

"We refuse any dialogue with the president until he cancels the constitutional declaration," according to a joint statement read out at a news conference.

Also opposing the decree, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Justice said on Thursday that the declaration launched an "unprecedented attack" on judicial independence, the official al-Ahram website reported. The judicial council asked the president to keep the declaration away from touching the judicial power and its authorities, or interfering the affairs of its members and its "dignified rulings."

Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of Morsi's controversial moves have planned to stage separate rallies on Tuesday.Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the president's powerbase, on Saturday called for a rally on Tuesday to support Morsi and his new constitutional declaration.

In a statement on its official website, the Islamic group called for a massive demonstration on Tuesday in the Abidin square near downtown Cairo, to defend Morsi's decisions to "fulfill the people's desire."

The MB has also tried to seek endorsement for Morsi's decisions in public squares across the country Sunday evening. At least three MB offices were attacked during Friday's fierce clashes across the country. The MB said some of the protestors who are against the decree were rioters, and did not respect the majority's will.


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