Morsi heads off opposition on constitution


Egypt’s prosecutor general yesterday ordered an investigation into accusations against the three leaders of the main opposition National Salvation Front for calling for the overthrow of the country’s first elected civilian president, Mohamed Morsi.

The allegations, filed last month, target Nobel laureate Mohamed El-Baradei, former foreign minister and Arab League chief Amr Moussa, and former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi.

The charges were connected to the November 22nd presidential decrees that granted Mr Morsi wide powers and put him, the fundamentalist-dominated constituent assembly, and upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, beyond judicial intervention.

In June, the supreme court disbanded the lower house, the people’s assembly, and its powers were assumed by the then ruling military council. In August Mr Morsi appropriated the political powers exercised by the generals.

Pre-emptive action

Egypt’s prosecutor general, Talaat Ibrahim Abdullah, ap- pointed recently by Mr Morsi, is a controversial figure who, reportedly, while serving in Bahrain in 2011-12, was accused of imposing harsh sentences on Shia demonstrators protesting at the policies of the country’s Sunni minority rulers.

Sources in Cairo told The Irish Times Mr Morsi, whose roots are in the Muslim Brotherhood, took this dramatic unilateral action in order to pre-empt expected rulings of the country’s high court to dissolve both the constituent assembly and the Shura Council. This would have automatically nullified the draft constitution, regarded by the secular, liberal and moderate fundamentalist opposition as flawed.

Opposition demonstrations

However, Mr Morsi’s decrees prompted massive opposition demonstrations outside the presidential palace in Cairo, in Alexandria and other cities and towns.

On December 5th, a peaceful protest at the palace was attacked by Brotherhood and Salafi elements armed with shotguns and staves, 10 people were killed and 700 injured, all but one opposition supporters.

In a fresh blow to the credibility of the Shura Council, Nadia Henry, who represents Egypt’s Anglican Church, resigned in protest against the absence of other Christians, liberals and minority groups in the chamber.Parliamentary affairs minister Mohamed Mahsoub also announced he was quitting because he disagreed with the slow pace of reform.