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Egypt's divide over Morsi's presidential decree continues to ferment

Egypts divide over Morsis presidential decree continues to ferment

Cairo: Egypt's domestic divisions over a series of controversial presidential decrees continued to ferment as the nation's Judges' Club Saturday called for a strike of all courts and prosecutors across the country.

Morsi decided Thursday to replace Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud with Talat Ibrahim Abdullah as the new prosecutor general.

He also issued a constitutional declaration, which rules that all laws, decrees and constitutional declarations issued by the president since he came into office on June 30 are final and unchallengeable by anybody.

Morsi's actions, which would shield the president from judicial review until a new parliament is elected in an election expected early next year, has triggered controversies among political parties and the general public, as well as violence in the streets.

During its extraordinary general assembly Saturday, the Judges' Club, a body representing judges across Egypt, tried to enforce Morsi to cancel the newly-issued presidential decree, the official MENA news agency reported.

Mahmoud said at the meeting the presidential decree that sacked him aimed at disturbing the judicial power, and he will resort to justice on Morsi's order.

Ahmed al-Zend, the head of the club, reiterated the club's rejection of the new constitutional declaration and its enforcement.

Echoing the judges, civil groups led by former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, and ex-presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahi, Amr Mussa and Abdelmoneim Abul Futuh, said there would be no dialogue with Morsi until the decree is rescinded.

"We refuse any dialogue with the president until he cancels the constitutional declaration," according to a joint statement read out at a news conference.

Also opposing the decree, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Justice said on Thursday that the declaration launched an "unprecedented attack" on judicial independence, the official al-Ahram website reported.

The judicial council asked the president to keep the declaration away from touching the judicial power and its authorities, or interfering the affairs of its members and its "dignified rulings."

Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of Morsi's controversial moves planned to stage their separate rallies on Tuesday.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (MB), the president's powerbase, on Saturday called for a rally on Tuesday to support Morsi and his new constitutional declaration.

In a statement on its official website, the Islamic group called for a massive demonstration on Tuesday in the Abidin square near downtown Cairo, to defend Morsi's decisions to "fulfill the people's desire."

The MB has also tried to seek endorsement for Morsi's decisions in public squares across the country Sunday evening.

At least three MB offices were attacked during Friday's fierce clashes across the country. The MB said some of the protestors who are against the decree were rioters, and did not respect the majority's will.

Meanwhile, the liberal, leftist and socialist parties also called on Saturday for a protest in the iconic Tahrir square of central Cairo on Tuesday.

They intended to call on the Morsi administration to revoke the new declaration, dissolve the Constitutional Assembly (CA), convene national dialogue, set up a new constitution-writing body, sack Prime Minister Hisham Qandil and reshuffle the Interior Ministry.

On Friday, thousands of demonstrators, headed by the April 6 movement, Revolutionary Youth Coalition and Kefaya movement, along with other liberal parties, flood to Tahrir square for the "anger and warning" rally to protest the new constitutional declaration.

Some 227 people were injured during the violent clashes at Tahrir Square between the police and protesters, according to a statement released by the health ministry, adding that some 45 injured are still in hospitals.

A security source was quoted by MENA as saying that 128 police were injured in the clash, and so far 259 rioters were arrested in the recent incidents.

The demonstrations also swept other provinces like Alexandria, Suez and Ismaelia, where clashes erupted between camps pro and anti president's decisions.

The Tahrir square was prevailed by relative calm on Saturday morning, while some political groups against the declaration have set up some 20 tents at the square to start their open-ended sit-in.

Egypt's liberal forces and the Coptic have long accused Islamists, who make up almost half of CA, of dominating the writing of the constitution. They fear that it will produce a draft constitution that does not meet the aspirations of most Egyptians.

Meanwhile, some Islamists, who are mainly salafists, accuse the Coptic and liberals of depriving their inborn right to live under the complete ruling of Islamic Sharia and the rulings and regulations of Prophet Mohammed.

Morsi's decree would mean that CA could stay unchanged and is given a two-month extension to complete its work.


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