Egyptian Court Delays Ruling on Assembly

Posted December 2nd, 2012 at 6:35 am (UTC-5)
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Egypt's top court has postponed a hearing to examine the legality of the nation's Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, the body that drafted a new constitution up for a referendum.

The court cited “administrative” reasons for the delay Sunday.

The delay announcement came as supporters of President Mohamed Morsi surrounded the Supreme Constitutional Court. The court did not say when the hearing would be re-scheduled.

In recent days, about 30 Christian, liberal and secular members have boycotted the assembly to protest what they call the hijacking of the process by Islamists loyal to President Morsi.

A ruling from the court, regardless of which way it went, would have been a direct challenge to the president, who last month gave himself sweeping new powers, placing himself and the constituent assembly above any oversight, including by the judiciary.

Mr. Morsi has said the decree of extreme powers would end immediately, once the people vote on the constitution.

Mr. Morsi has set a date of December 15 for a national referendum on the controversial new constitution that has sparked large protests.

The president announced the date after the assembly handed its final draft of the constitution to him late Saturday. The draft constitution retains the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation.

Earlier Saturday, tens of thousands of Islamists demonstrated across Egypt in support of Mr. Morsi and the draft constitution, demanding the implementation of what they called “God's law.” The Muslim Brotherhood called for the rallies. The president is a former member of the once-banned group.

Also Saturday, thousands of protesters demonstrated in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a ninth straight day against the president and the draft constitution. They have been voicing opposition to the decree that gave the president extraordinary powers.