Egypt’s Morsi, Judges to Meet as Protests Continue

Posted November 26th, 2012 at 5:25 am (UTC-5)
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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is due to meet with the country's Supreme Judicial Council, as judges try to persuade the president to limit the sweeping powers he granted himself last week.

The decree has sparked protests by opposition activists, who continued to camp out in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a fourth day Monday demanding Mr. Morsi reverse his decision. Opponents and supporters of the president have called for rival mass rallies in the city on Tuesday.

Mr. Morsi's decree says his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts, and bars Egypt's judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament and an assembly drafting a new constitution. Critics say Mr. Morsi is taking on dictatorial powers like those of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted from power by a popular uprising.

The president says his decree is “temporary” and will last until Egypt elects a new parliament under a revised constitution. A spokesman for his ruling Freedom and Justice Party said Sunday the decree will likely last for two months or less, and characterized the move as a bid to “secure stability” in Egypt.

In Washington, influential U.S. Senator John McCain criticized Mr. Morsi's decree as “unacceptable,” in an interview with the television network Fox News.

“We thank Mr. Morsi for his efforts in brokering a cease-fire (between Israel and Hamas), which by the way is incredibly fragile, but this (decree) is not acceptable. This is not what U.S. taxpayers expect. Our dollars (should) be directly related to the progress toward democracy which you (Morsi) promised the people of Egypt when your party and you were elected president.”

The Obama administration has proposed a $1 billion debt relief package for Egypt to help revive its struggling economy. Egypt also has received billions of dollars in U.S. military aid over three decades of close relations.

The U.S. State Department said the Morsi declarations “raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community.” It said one of the aspirations of the 2011 revolution was “to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution.”

Reformists and liberals fear the Islamist-dominated assembly revising the charter will produce a document with an Islamist slant.