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EgyptEgypt launches investigation of opposition leaders

Published 28 December 2012

Three days after President Mohammed Morsi signed a decree to make the new Egyptian constitution the law of the land, the public prosecutor of Egypt has ordered an inquiry of three prominent opposition leaders; the inquiry will look into charges that the three leaders — Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Mousa, and Hamdeen Sabahi —“incited the overthrow” of President Morsi

Three days after President Mohammed Morsi signed a decree to make the new Egyptian constitution the law of the land, the public prosecutor of Egypt has ordered an inquiry of three prominent opposition leaders.

The inquiry will look into charges that the three leaders — Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Mousa, and Hamdeen Sabahi —“incited the overthrow” of President Morsi.

Analysts say the inquiry is likely to deepen the divide and exacerbate the tensions between Morsi’s Islamic supporters and the secular-liberal opponents.

The three leaders were divided in the first round of the presidential electionsin June  – Mousa and Sabahi each ran in the first round, while ElBaradei decided at the last minute not to run – but have recently joined forces to form the National Salvation Front, now the main opposition coalition fighting Morsi and his policies.

In a move which may or may not be related to the inquiry, the parliamentary affairs minister Mohammed Mahsoub resigned, explaining that many of the government’s recent policies “contradict my personal beliefs.”

Mahsoub represented the moderate Islamist party Wasat in the government, and his resignation may be an indication that more moderate Islamists are uncomfortable the with Muslim Brotherhood’s high-handedness in the constitution-drafting process.

Talaat Ibrahim, the public prosecutor who launched the inquiry, is a Morsi loyalist who was appointed last month, after Morsi dismissed his predecessor.

The BBC reports from Cairo that the inquiry against the three opposition leaders does not necessarily mean that charges will be filed.

The anger of the opposition at Morsi began two weeks before the drafting of the constitution was completed, when he gave himself sweeping new powers land pushed ahead a referendum on a controversial new constitution.

The new constitution, which went into effect Tuesday, returns many of the powers he had taken to himself back to parliament, but parliament is controlled by the Islamists and many of the clauses in the constitution are vague and imprecise, so the liberals are worried that in practice, if not in theory, Morsi will be able to continue to rule in the arbitrary manner he has exhibited so far.

The elections for the new parliament will be held in two months, and one of the reasons the various factions of the liberal opposition have deiced to join forces is heir realization that the February elections represent their best chance of slowing the will  

Fresh parliamentary elections are now due to be held within two months.

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