26 November 2012

Egypt's Executive, Judiciary Meet Over Controversial Presidential Decree

Photo: Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien
Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square.

President Mohammed Mursi signed a decree last week granting himself sweeping powers.

A crisis meeting held yesterday, November 26, 2012 between members of Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council and President Mohammed Mursi following violent nationwide protests after he signed a decree on November 22, 2012, granting himself wide-ranging powers.

Earlier on Sunday, November 25, 2012, President Mursi made it clear that the decree was temporary and not intended to concentrate power in his hands. Rather, it was aimed at preventing democratically-elected bodies from being undermined, the BBC said. The Egyptian leader expressed his commitment to finding common ground with other parties on the matter, adding that he hoped to reach consensus on a new constitution currently being drafted.

The Judges' Club that represents judges throughout the country had earlier called for a nationwide strike over the weekend to protest against the decree. But the top judicial body, the Supreme Judicial Council, appeared not to reject the decree outright, saying it should only apply to what it described as sovereign matters, and called on judges and prosecutors, some of whom began a strike on Sunday, to return to work. Justice Minister, Ahmed Mekky, also announced that efforts to mediate between the President and the judges had begun.

Meanwhile, large demonstrations over the issue are planned by supporters and opponents of Mursi today, November 27, 2012. So far, more than 500 people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters who are worried that President Mursi's Moslem Brotherhood aims to dominate the post-Hosni Mubarak era after winning Egypt's first democratic parliamentary and presidential elections this year. One Moslem Brotherhood member was killed and 60 people were hurt on Sunday in an attack on the main office of the Brotherhood in the Nile Delta town of Damanhour.

According to President Mursi's decree, no authority can revoke presidential decisions. There is also a bar on judges dissolving the assembly that is drawing up a new constitution. Many of Mursi's political opponents share the view that Egypt's judiciary needs reform, though they disagree with his methods. Mursi's new powers allow him to sack the Prosecutor General who was appointed under Mubarak and is unpopular among reformists.

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