Egypt’s Morsi Grants Himself Sweeping Powers

Posted November 22nd, 2012 at 2:30 pm (UTC-5)
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Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has issued a decree granting himself far-reaching powers and ordering retrials of former officials who tried to violently suppress last year's popular revolution against longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

In a statement read on state television by his spokesman Thursday, Mr. Morsi declared that his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts or any other authority, putting himself beyond judicial oversight.

The spokesman also said Mubarak-era officials will face retrials for alleged involvement in the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising, a move that could lead to a retrial of Mubarak himself. The ousted leader was sentenced to life in prison in June for failing to stop the killings. But, he avoided convictions on more serious offenses of corruption and ordering the deadly crackdown, angering many Egyptians.

Other Mubarak-era officials and security personnel also have been acquitted on charges of killing protesters, prompting critics to accuse the top government prosecutor of mishandling the cases. In his decree Thursday, Mr. Morsi fired that prosecutor, Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud, a Mubarak appointee who had been in the post for many years. The decree retroactively limited Mahmoud's term to four years, bringing it to an immediate end.

President Morsi had tried to fire Mahmoud last month but was blocked by the courts. He named Talat Abdullah as the government's new general prosecutor.

The presidential decree also bars Egypt's judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament and an assembly drafting a new constitution – two bodies dominated by Mr. Morsi's Islamist allies. Egyptian courts have been examining cases demanding the dissolution of both assemblies.