Egypt’s Morsi to Meet Judicial Council on Decree

Posted November 25th, 2012 at 3:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Egyptian state media says President Mohamed Morsi will meet members of the country's highest judicial authority Monday to discuss his decree shielding his decisions from judicial review.

Mr. Morsi and the judiciary hinted at compromise Sunday to avert a full-scale political crisis.

The Supreme Judicial Council said the president's decree seizing new powers should apply only to “sovereign matters.” Although it did not clarify what that meant, its statement – read on television – suggested it did not reject the move outright. It called on judges and prosecutors who have called for a strike to return to work.

Mr. Morsi repeated assurances that the measures would be temporary, and said he wanted dialogue with political groups.

Egypt's stock market plunged nearly 10 percent Sunday in its first day open since the president's decree set off street violence. The losses on the Egyptian exchange are among the biggest since the turbulent days and weeks after the ouster of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak last year.

Earlier Sunday, protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the site of the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak, threw rocks at police. Security forces fired back with rounds of tear gas in the third day of violence since the president's decrees put him above judicial oversight and extended the same protection to two Islamist-dominated bodies — the assembly writing a new constitution and the upper house of parliament.

President Morsi's supporters and opponents are both planning demonstrations on Tuesday that many fear will lead to more violence.

Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohammed ElBaradei called Saturday for President Morsi to rescind the near absolute powers he has granted himself.

ElBaradei, addressing crowds in Tahrir Square, said the president must take the action to avoid the possibility of increased turmoil in the country that has recently shed its longtime repressive government.

Egypt's highest body of judges, the Supreme Judicial Council, also condemned President Morsi's decree.

The judges Saturday 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 Judges in Alexandria have gone on strike, saying they will not return to work until the decree is withdrawn.

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 Mubarak after three decades in power.

Mr. Morsi's decree Thursday includes an order for retrials of former officials who used violence to suppress last year's popular revolution against Mubarak. It also bars Egypt's judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament and an assembly drafting a new constitution – both dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood.