Egypt to vote on constitution
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has called a December 15th referendum on a draft constitution and urged a national dialogue on the "concerns of the nation" as the country nears the end of the transition from Hosni Mubarak's rule.
Mr Morsi was speaking after receiving the final draft of the constitution from the Islamist-dominated assembly that wrote it.
Mr Morsi spoke in a nationally televised speech to the panel that hurriedly approved the draft charter amid widening opposition from secular and Christian groups.
Mr Morsi urged Egyptians to participate in the referendum and praised the role of the judiciary in observing past elections. He said the referendum will be a brick in Egypt’s democratic experience.
Earlier thousands of people waving Egyptian flags and holding large pictures of Mr Morsi demonstrated across Egypt in support of the president.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Mr Morsi hails, hopes the turnout at the rallies will counteract earlier opposition protests.
Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets twice this week opposing Mr Morsi’s decrees last week to grant himself sweeping powers.
Mr Morsi said he acted to prevent courts led by former regime figures from dissolving the assembly and delaying a transition to democracy.
“The people support the president’s decision,” chanted crowds outside Cairo University, where several thousand had gathered.
The rallies also aim to show support for a draft constitution passed by an Islamist-led assembly on Friday.