Morsi 'to address Egyptian nation'
Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi will address the nation tomorrow on matters including the decree he issued last week and the street protests that erupted afterwards, a presidential source said.
"The president will address the nation on state TV on Thursday evening and will speak about the constitutional decree and why it was issued as well as the events that ensued afterwards," the source told Reuters.
Protesters say Mr Morsi's decree gives him dictatorial powers.
Earlier, the assembly writing Egypt's constitution said it could wrap up a final draft later today, a move the Muslim Brotherhood sees as a way out of a crisis over the decree.
But as Mr Morsi's opponents staged a sixth day of protests in Tahrir Square, critics said the Islamist-dominated assembly's bid to finish the constitution quickly could make matters worse.
Two people have been killed and hundreds injured in countrywide protest set off by Mr Morsi's decree.
The Brotherhood hopes to end the crisis by replacing Mr Morsi's controversial decree with an entirely new constitution that would need to be approved in a popular referendum, a Brotherhood official told Reuters.
It is a gamble based on the Islamists' belief that they can mobilise enough voters to win the referendum: they have won all elections held since Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power.
But the move seemed likely to deepen divisions that are being exposed in the street.
The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies called for protests on Saturday in Tahrir Square, setting the stage for more confrontation with their opponents, who staged a mass rally there yesterday.
The constitution is one of the main reasons Mr Morsi is at loggerheads with non-Islamist opponents. They are boycotting the 100-member constitutional assembly, saying the Islamists have tried to impose their vision for Egypt's future.
The assembly's legal legitimacy has been called into question by a series of court cases demanding its dissolution. Its popular legitimacy has been hit by the withdrawal of members including church representatives and liberals.
"We will start now and finish today, God willing," Hossam el-Gheriyani, the assembly speaker, said at the start of its latest session in Cairo, saying Thursday would be "a great day".
"If you are upset by the decree, nothing will stop it except a new constitution issued immediately," he said. Three other members of the assembly told Reuters there were plans to put the document to a vote tomorrow.
Just down the road from the meeting convened at the Shura Council, protesters were again clashing with riot police in Tahrir Square. Members of the assembly watched on television as they waited to go into session.
"The constitution is in its last phases and will be put to a referendum soon and God willing it will solve a lot of the problems in the street," said Talaat Marzouk, an assembly member from the Salafi Nour Party, as he watched the images.
But Wael Ghonim, a prominent activist whose online blogging helped ignite the anti-Mubarak uprising, said a constitution passed in such circumstances would "entrench authoritarianism".
The constitution is supposed to be the cornerstone of a new, democratic Egypt following Mubarak's three decades of autocratic rule. The assembly has been at work for six months. Mr Morsi had extended its Dec. 12 deadline by two months - extra time that Gheriyani said was not needed.