Egypt President To Address Nation, Panel Set to Vote on Constitution

Posted November 29th, 2012 at 2:15 am (UTC-5)
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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi plans to address the nation Thursday, as a divisive panel boycotted by Christians and liberals was set to vote on a draft constitution.

Mr. Morsi extended the deadline to write the constitution from December to February, but the assembly's speaker said the extra time was unnecessary. Critics say the Islamist-dominated panel's move to finish the constitution quickly could worsen the political turmoil that has gripped the nation since Mr. Morsi issued a November 22 decree barring the judiciary from challenging his decisions.

Egyptians continued protests in Tahrir Square against President Morsi for a seventh straight day, accusing him of acting like a dictator. Clashes between stone-throwing protesters and police launching tear gas canisters also continued overnight.

Supporters of the president have vowed to demonstrate on Saturday.

Egypt's highest courts went on strike Wednesday in protest of the president's decrees, vowing to stop their work until the a constitutional court rules on Mr. Morsi's order granting himself immunity from judicial review.

The constitutional court has accused Mr. Morsi of an unjustified attack on its independence. In a statement released Wednesday, the court rejected charges made by Mr. Morsi that it is working to bring down his government.

The president said his decree was designed to protect state institutions.

Mr. Morsi later promised the Supreme Judicial Council that he will restrict his newly self-granted powers to “sovereign matters.” But the vaguely worded statement did not define the issues over which he would have absolute power.