Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei has called on Egypt's president to rescind the near absolute powers he has granted himself to avoid the possibility of increased turmoil in the country that has recently shed its longtime repressive government.
The Nobel laureate addressed crowds that have gathered Saturday in Cairo's central square to protest President Mohamed Morsi's decrees that put him above judicial oversight and protect his Islamist supporters in parliament.
Egypt's highest body of judges, the Supreme Judicial Council, also condemned President Morsi's decree. In a statement Saturday the judges called the move “an unprecedented attack” on the independence of the judiciary. Judges in Alexandria have gone on strike, saying they will not return to work until the decree is withdrawn.
Demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square continued for the second day, spurring Egyptian security forces to fire tear gas at protesters, many of whom spent the night in the protest hub.
The protests began Friday, a day after President Morsi declared that his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts or any other authority. He cited a need to protect the achievements of the 2011 revolution that led to the ouster of former President Hosni Mubarak after three decades in power.
His decree Thursday includes an order for retrials of former officials who used violence to suppress last year's popular revolution against President Mubarak. It also bars Egypt's judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament and an assembly drafting a new constitution – two bodies dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
The decision sparked protests in several Egyptian cities where opponents attacked the offices of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood party.
In a speech to supporters Friday at the presidential palace, Mr. Morsi said he wants to move Egypt forward as a stable and safe nation and does not seek sole control of the country.