Morsi seeks to defuse crisis over decree
Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has tried to defuse the backlash against a decree issued last week that granted him sweeping powers by calling for dialogue with opponents and stressing the temporary nature of his decree.
After being locked in a meeting with his advisers for much of yesterday, Mr Morsi issued a statement in which he declared his “firm commitment to engage all political forces in the inclusive democratic dialogue to reach a common ground”.
The statement also stressed the temporary nature of measures “which are not meant to concentrate powers, but on the contrary devolve it [to a] democratically elected parliament”.
There have been reports that Mr Morsi may issue an addendum to the decree to limit the expansive powers he has granted himself.
The attempt to defuse the row comes as supporters and opponents of the Muslim Brotherhood plan further demonstrations tomorrow, which many fear could lead to the continuation of violence that has seen more than 500 people injured in protests since Friday.
Protests against the decree continued yesterday, follow Saturday’s announcement by Egypt’s judiciary that courts should suspend work until Mr Morsi rescinds his decision.
The Egyptian president’s office said the decree extending his powers was “necessary” and temporary. It was intended “to hold accountable those responsible for corruption as well as other crimes during the previous regime and the transitional period”, according to a statement from Mr Morsi’s office.
The Cairo stock market plunged almost 10 per cent yesterday as a result of the crisis. It was the worst fall since the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
Immunity from oversight
The decree Mr Morsi issued last Thursday gave him far-ranging powers, including immunity from judicial oversight regarding any laws he issues until a parliament and constitution is in place.
Mr Morsi also protected the upper body of parliament, the Shura council, and the constituent assembly tasked with drafting Egypt’s constitution from court appeals. A court verdict due in December could have invalidated the assembly.
Tens of thousands protested on Friday at what has been seen as a blatant power grab to benefit the Muslim Brotherhood and its monopoly on the assembly. Offices of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice Party, were set ablaze in Alexandria, Port Said and Mahalla.– (Guardian service, PA)