Egyptian Plan Protests After President Grants Himself Sweeping Powers

Posted November 23rd, 2012 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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Egypt's opposition has called for protests Friday after President Mohamed Morsi put himself above oversight and declared that his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts or any other authority.

President Morsi's spokesman announced the decree Thursday, citing a need to “protect the revolution.” Opposition members have called the move illegal.

The 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.

In addition, Mr. Morsi has ordered retrials of former officials who used violence in efforts to suppress last year's popular revolution against longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

Mr. Morsi's supporters say his decree was long overdue. But Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei said Mr. Morsi has usurped all state powers, warning that there could be dire consequences. The liberal politician is a leading opposition figure in Egypt and a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The president's action comes after he received international praise for mediating a Gaze cease-fire.

Egyptian courts have been examining cases demanding the dissolution of both assemblies. But Mr. Morsi's decree effectively neutralizes the judiciary system in favor of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.

The announced retrials for those suspected of involvement in the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising, could include a retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak. 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.