Egypt protests continue over Mursi powers
Cairo, November 28, 2012
Hundreds of protesters were in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a sixth day on Wednesday, demanding that Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi rescind a decree they say gives him dictatorial powers.
Five months into the Islamist leader's term, and in scenes reminiscent of the popular uprising that unseated predecessor Hosni Mubarak last year, police fired teargas at stone-throwers following protests by tens of thousands on Tuesday against the declaration that expanded Mursi's powers and put his decisions beyond legal challenge.
Protesters say they will stay in Tahrir until the decree is withdrawn, bringing fresh turmoil to a nation at the heart of the Arab Spring and delivering a new blow to an economy already on the ropes.
Senior judges have been negotiating with Mursi about how to restrict his new powers, while protesters want him to dissolve an Islamist-dominated assembly that is drawing up a new constitution and which Mursi protected from legal review.
Any deal to calm the street will likely need to address both issues. But opposition politicians said the list of demands could grow the longer the crisis goes on. Many protesters want the cabinet, which meets on Wednesday, to be sacked, too.
Mursi's administration insists that his actions were aimed at breaking a political logjam to push Egypt more swiftly towards democracy, an assertion his opponents dismiss.
"The president wants to create a new dictatorship," said 38-year-old Mohamed Sayyed Ahmed, who has not had a job for two years. He is one of many in the square who are as angry over economic hardship as they are about Mursi's actions.
"We want the scrapping of the constitutional declaration and the constituent assembly, so a new one is created representing all the people and not just one section," he said.
The West worries about turbulence in a nation that has a peace treaty with Israel and is now ruled by Islamists they long kept at arms length. The United States, a big donor to Egypt's military, has called for "peaceful democratic dialogue".
Two people have been killed in violence since the decree, while low-level clashes between protesters and police have gone on for days near Tahrir. Violence has flared in other cities.
Egypt court hits back at president
Meanwhile, Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court accused President Mohamed Mursi on Wednesday of taking part in a campaign against the court, heightening tensions between the Islamist leader and parts of the judiciary.
"The really sad thing that has pained the members of this court is when the president of the republic joined, in a painful surprise, the campaign of continuous attack on the constitutional court," said the court's spokesman, Maher Samy.
He told reporters that Mursi had accused the court in a speech on Friday of leaking verdicts before a formal announcement. The court issued a ruling this year declaring the Islamist-led parliament void, leading to its dissolution. – Reuters