First Published: 2012-12-09

 

Morsi cancels controversial decree, yet anger remains in Egypt

 

Morsi says he will still press ahead with referendum as opposition dismisses his announcements as ‘political manoeuvre aimed at duping people’.

 

Middle East Online

By Marc Burleigh – CAIRO

Concession fails to quell anger

Egypt's main opposition considered Sunday whether to maintain mass protests against President Mohamed Morsi after the Islamist leader announced a key concession in the political crisis dividing the country.

A Morsi aide said the president had agreed "from this moment" to give up expanded powers he assumed last month that gave him immunity from judicial oversight.

However, in a meeting with other political figures on Saturday, Morsi said he would still press ahead with a December 15 referendum on a controversial new constitution drafted by a panel dominated by his Islamist allies.

The opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, was to meet "to discuss its position after the announcement," Emad Abu Ghazi, secretary general of one of its principal parties, said.

Another member group, the April 6 Youth Movement, dismissed the announcements as "a political manoeuvre aimed at duping the people".

It called for protests to continue to stop "the referendum on the constitution of the Muslim Brotherhood," a reference to the party backing Morsi.

A prominent opposition leader, former UN atomic agency chief and Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, tweeted after Morsi's announcement that "a constitution that curtails our rights and freedoms is a constitution we will topple."

Demonstrators furious at what they saw as a power grab by Morsi and the railroading of the draft constitution have held weeks of street rallies whose demands have escalated into calls for his resignation.

On Wednesday, vicious clashes erupted between pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators outside the presidential palace that left seven people dead and more than 600 injured.

Egypt's powerful army stepped in by deploying tanks and troops around the palace.

On Saturday the military issued its first statement since the start of the crisis, warning the rival political camps to get together for talks to stop Egypt descending "into a dark tunnel with disastrous results".

"That is something we will not allow," it said.

Hours after that ultimatum, Morsi announced through his adviser, Selim al-Awa, that he was annulling the November 22 decree expanding his powers.

But the referendum scheduled for next Saturday would still go ahead, Awa said in a news conference at the presidential palace.

He said that Morsi was constitutionally bound to keep to that date as the law requires a vote to be held within two weeks of the president receiving the text.

The opposition has consistently demanded both the decree and the referendum be scrapped before it would entertain starting dialogue with Morsi.

It rebuffed an offer by the president last Thursday for talks because he had defiantly defended the decree and said the referendum would take place and the country would have to accept the result.

The Egyptian press was divided about the prospects for an end to the crisis.

"The crisis persists," said the independent daily Al-Watan.

But state-owned Al-Akhbar described Morsi's move as "positive".

Opposition figures have denounced the draft charter as weakening protection of human rights and the rights of women and religious minorities.

Those criticisms were echoed last week by UN human rights chief Navi Pillay. "I believe people are right to be very concerned," she said.

Analysts have said the referendum will likely see the draft constitution adopted, given still strong public support for Morsi and the organisation skills of the Muslim Brotherhood.

But they warned the effects of that would be damaging.

"The Muslim Brotherhood believes that it has majority support so it can win the constitutional referendum," said Eric Trager, analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

If that occurred, it would "set up the country for prolonged instability," he warned.

In Cairo's Tahrir Square, a focal point for hardcore protesters, news of the cancellation of the decree sparked no celebrations. "This will change nothing," said one anti-Morsi activist, Mohamed Shakir, 50.

 

US-led coalition warplanes hit IS near Syria's Al-Bab

Tunisia facing mounting calls against jail-for-joint law

Iraq forces 'liberate' eastern Mosul

Iran's oldest high-rise building on fire collapses

Syria war forces elderly to take shelter in retirement homes

IMF says Egypt on track for next aid tranche

Bahrain police disperse Shiite protesters

Key Syria rebel group opts out of Astana peace talks

Moroccan Sufi ‘living master’ dies at 95

France says Iraqi jihadist among 2015 stadium bombers

Russia, Turkey stage first joint air strikes against IS in Syria

IS advances on terrified citizens of Syria’s Deir Ezzor

In path to greater executive power, Erdogan faces weak Turkey economy

Switzerland drops war crimes case against former Algerian defence minister

Patience wears thin in Iraq's Fallujah

New UN chief stresses importance of Syria peace talks

Istanbul nightclub attacker 'received orders from IS'

Turkish border officials refuse entry to NYT reporter

Fatah, Hamas agree to form unity government

Snowden’s stay in Russia extended by two years

Palestinian home demolitions spark deadly violence

East Syria clashes continue between IS, regime forces

Syrian general, 8 soldiers killed in tunnel blast

Florida airport shooter ‘inspired’ by IS jiahdists

Iran opposes US joining Syria talks

Turkey snubs UN hearing on detained Rwanda genocide judge

Rouhani calls for end to Saudi ‘interference’ across region

Saudi says China rise source of global stability not conflict

Lengthy drought leaves Somalia with serious famine risk

Gunman found in comfy Istanbul flat

Iran, Syria sign phone, petrol deals in Tehran

Jordan charges 8 with inciting opposition against regime

Iranian president rules out renegotiating nuclear deal

Turkey prosecutors demand up to 142 years in jail for Kurd leader

180 dead after boat capsizes in Mediterranean

Saudi carries out first death sentence of 2017

Libyan granted right to sue UK ex-minister for rendition

Syria regime, rebels name heads of delegation for Astana talks

Istanbul nightclub attacker captured

Syria troops, IS jihadists battle on in Deir Ezzor

Israel occupation forces rearrest Palestinian journalist

Russian FM says Syria peace talks to ‘consolidate’ ceasefire

Amnesty warns EU's anti-terror laws threaten human rights

Saudi health emergency after mass food poisoning

Darfur rebel groups rebuilding their forces in Libya, South Sudan