November 25, 2012 in Nation/World

Egypt’s Morsi decree troubles Nobel Peace laureate

President called ‘a new pharaoh’
Hamza Hendawi Associated Press
 

ElBaradei
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

More power, no oversight

Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi issued decrees last week giving himself broad powers and effectively neutering the judiciary.

Morsi, an Islamist hailing from the Muslim Brotherhood, defends the step as necessary to clear obstacles holding up Egypt’s transition, particularly from judges who could have disbanded a controversial assembly writing the constitution or overturned his decisions. Critics say Morsi, who already holds both executive and legislative powers, is setting himself up as a new dictator.

Here is a look at the main points of his decrees:

• All laws and decisions by the president are final, cannot be appealed, overturned or halted by the courts or other bodies. This applies to decisions he has made since taking office in June and any he makes until a new constitution is approved and a new parliament is elected, expected in the spring at the earliest.

• No judicial body can dissolve the upper house of parliament or the assembly writing the new constitution. Both are dominated by the Brotherhood and other Islamists and several cases demanding their disbanding were before the courts, which previously dissolved the lower house of parliament.

• The president can take any steps or measures necessary to prevent threats to “the revolution, the life of the nation or national unity and security” or to the functioning of state institutions.

• A new judiciary body of “protection of the revolution” is created to reopen investigations, prosecutions and trials of former regime officials, including ousted President Hosni Mubarak, for the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising. Other police officers accused of killings, however, will not be retried.

• The controversial prosecutor general, a Mubarak appointee seen by many as lax in pursuing former regime figures, was removed from his post.

Associated Press

CAIRO – Prominent Egyptian democracy advocate Mohamed ElBaradei warned Saturday of increasing turmoil that could potentially lead to the military stepping in unless the Islamist president rescinds his new, near absolute powers, as the country’s long fragmented opposition sought to unite and rally new protests.

Egypt’s liberal and secular forces – long divided, weakened and uncertain amid the rise of Islamist parties to power – are seeking to rally themselves in response to the decrees issued last week by President Mohammed Morsi. The president granted himself sweeping powers to “protect the revolution” and made himself immune to judicial oversight.

The judiciary, which was the main target of Morsi’s edicts, pushed back Saturday. The country’s highest body of judges, the Supreme Judicial Council, called his decrees an “unprecedented assault.” Courts in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria announced a work suspension until the decrees are lifted.

The edicts issued Wednesday have galvanized anger brewing against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which he hails, ever since he took office in June as Egypt’s first freely elected president. Critics accuse the Brotherhood – which has dominated elections the past year – and other Islamists of monopolizing power and doing little to bring real reform or address Egypt’s mounting economic and security woes.

Oppositon groups have called for new nationwide rallies Tuesday – and the Muslim Brotherhood has called for rallies supporting Morsi the same day, setting the stage for new violence.

In an interview with a handful of journalists, Nobel Peace laureate ElBaradei raised alarm over the impact of Morsi’s rulings, saying he had become “a new pharaoh.”

“There is a good deal of anger, chaos, confusion. Violence is spreading to many places and state authority is starting to erode slowly,” he said. “We hope that we can manage to do a smooth transition without plunging the country into a cycle of violence. But I don’t see this happening without Mr. Morsi rescinding all of this.”

Speaking of Egypt’s powerful military, ElBaradei said, “I am sure they are as worried as everyone else. You cannot exclude that the army will intervene to restore law and order” if the situation gets out of hand.

ElBaradei and six other prominent liberal leaders have announced the formation of a National Salvation Front aimed at rallying all non-Islamist groups together to force Morsi to rescind his edicts.

ElBaradei said it would be a long process to persuade Morsi that he “cannot get away with murder.”

“There is no middle ground, no dialogue before he rescinds this declaration. There is no room for dialogue until then.”

© Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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