EgyptMorsi searches for way out of Egypt’s political crisis as opposition to power grab intensifies
Last week, Egypt’s president Mohamed Morsi issued a decree which said that no authority could revoke presidential decisions; the decree also bars judges from dissolving the assembly which is now engaged in drawing up a new constitution; the decree authorized the president to take any measures to preserve the revolution, national unity, or safeguard national security; leaders from across the political spectrum charged the decree betrayed the popular revolution which toppled Hosni Mubarak, and turned Morsi into a “new Pharaoh”; some leaders of the secular opposition implied that they would prefer to see the military seize power from the Muslim Brotherhood
Egypt’s president Mohammed Mursi has spent most of yesterday with his advisers, trying to find a dignified way to retreat from his Friday’s declaration that he was extending his powers, and that the decrees he issues would no longer be subject to judicial or parliamentary reviews.
His power grab was met with howls of protests from the liberal opposition, with some, among them former presidential candidate Mohame el-Baradei, implying that they would rather see the military seize power because they trusted the military to guide Egypt to democracy more than they trusted the Muslim Brotherhood.
Many judges across Egypt went on Strike Monday to protest Morsi’s move. In a meeting in Cairo with senior judges, Morsi said his decree banning challenges to his decisions would stand, but that it would be limited in scope.
The BBC reports that after Morsi’s 5-hour meeting with members of the Supreme Judicial Council on Monday, presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said the president had told the judges he respected judicial independence.
Ali made it clear the president would not withdraw the decree, but said Morsi had reassured the judges that its scope would be restricted to “sovereign matters,” designed to protect institutions.
Another issue that rattled the judiciary was Morsi’s assertion on Friday that those high officials of the Hosni Mubarak regime who were acquitted in trials, would be made to face trials again on the same charges. On Monday, the presidential spokesman said there would be no further retrials of officials who worked under Mubarak, unless new evidence were presented.
The opposition parties plan to hold mass protests today (Tuesday).
Mona Amer, a spokesman for the opposition movement Popular Current, told Reuters: “We asked for the cancellation of the decree and that did not happen.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, however, said it was postponing its own Tuesday demonstration in support of Morsi.
The BBC notes that several prominent opposition leaders, including el Baradei, have said they will not engage in dialogue until the president rescinds the measure, known as the constitutional declaration.
The decree, issued last week, said that no authority could revoke presidential decisions. The decree also bars judges from dissolving the assembly which is now engaged in drawing up a new constitution. The decree also authorized the president to take any measures to preserve the revolution, national unity, or safeguard national security.