News / Middle East

    Egyptian Opposition to Continue Protests Against Referendum

    An anti-Mursi protester walks past graffiti depicting two activists who died recently, at Tahrir Square in Cairo December 10, 2012.
    An anti-Mursi protester walks past graffiti depicting two activists who died recently, at Tahrir Square in Cairo December 10, 2012.
    VOA News
    Despite concrete barricades and a heavy military presence in the Egyptian capital Cairo, opposition leaders say they will keep up the pressure on the president to cancel Saturday's constitutional referendum.
     
    The opposition National Salvation Front, led by liberals including Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa, have called on their supporters to march on the presidential palace in Cairo on Tuesday.  

    Developments in Egypt

    • November 22: Presidential decree gives Mr. Morsi sweeping powers, protests erupt
    • November 30: Islamist assembly adopts draft constitution
    • December 1: Constitution referendum scheduled for December 15
    • December 2: Judges say they will boycott constitution referendum
    • December 5: Protesters clash outside presidential palace in Cairo
    • December 8: Morsi annuls presidential decree
    • December 10: Morsi gives military authority to arrest civilians
    In a statement late Sunday, a National Salvation Front spokesman said the draft constitution does not properly represent the Egyptian people. He said going ahead with a referendum on the document will lead to more confrontation in the country. 

    But Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has refused to back down. On Monday, he gave the military authority to arrest civilians as part of a decree to help maintain security for the referendum. The order tasks the military with supporting police to protect "vital institutions."
     
    Many secular Egyptians fear the draft constitution will erode civil liberties because it boosts the role of Islamic law and makes no specific mention of women's rights. A constituent assembly dominated by Islamists approved the document last month after liberal and Christian members walked out, complaining that their voices were being ignored. 
     
    Some observers say the draft constitution has a good chance of being approved because Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement has a superior ability to mobilize supporters to vote. 
     
    Morsi made a concession to the opposition on Saturday by canceling parts of a November 22 decree that granted himself sweeping powers. He made the announcement after a day of talks with other political figures. Most opposition groups boycotted the dialogue. 

    • An army soldier guards his tank in front the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 12, 2012.
    • Children play around protest camp tents in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 12, 2012.
    • Army tanks, left, deploy as Egyptian protesters gather outside the presidential palace during a demonstration against President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Protesters chant anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Anti-Morsi protesters shout slogans as they stand on top of a wall in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • People clash with anti-Morsi protesters, after the protesters blocked the gate of a government building near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 11, 2012.
    • Anti-Morsi protesters sit outside their tents, below a flag that reads, "No, to Constitution," Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 10, 2012.
    • Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Protesters push army soldiers standing guard in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.
    • Soldiers stand guard on top of a tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 9, 2012.

    Morsi also said that if the draft constitution is rejected in Saturday's referendum, he will call elections for a new constituent assembly to draft another charter that will be put to a popular vote. 
     
    The president removed provisions of the November 22 decree that shielded all of his decisions from judicial review. Opposition groups had complained that the original measure gave the president dictatorial powers. 
     
    But Morsi's Saturday decree said the courts remain barred from challenging his "constitutional declarations." 
     
    Mohammed ElBaradei sent out a tweet Sunday saying the fight against the new constitution is about the "essence of the state, universal rights and values, and looking forwards, not backwards." 
     
    On Saturday, Egypt's military made its first public comment on the political crisis, urging both sides to resolve political differences through dialogue.  It warned that continued confrontation risks plunging Egypt into a "dark tunnel leading to catastrophe" and vowed "not to allow" such an outcome.
     
    Egyptian troops set up concrete barriers outside the presidential palace Sunday to prevent rival groups of liberals and Islamists from holding further rallies at the site. Street battles between the two sides have killed seven people in the capital in recent days. 

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: ali baba from: new york
    December 11, 2012 3:39 AM
    the problem in Egypt yield no effect on Egyptian Muslim brotherhood nor American policy maker . it seems that both refuse to understand.Despite Egypt in the news for one year the condition is deteriorating, and a Muslim gov who declare that us is a public enemy no1. the Obama administration is giving one billion dollar and allow Egyptian gov to purchase airplane fighter. what is the purpose to supply Egypt with military equipment . is that good for next middle east. or using these military equipment to kill the infidel in Egypt the Christian.

    by: johnsmith from: knoxville
    December 10, 2012 11:21 PM
    This will happen here soon. I hope they'll have enough room in the FEMA camps for all of us

    http://theconspiratorknoxville.blogspot.com/

    by: markjuliansmith from: Canberra
    December 10, 2012 3:47 PM
    "..liberal and Christian members walked out, complaining that their voices were being ignored."

    Egyptian Liberals etc have to ask themselves what the promises of Iranian Islamists to protect Other meant in the long run.

    It is amazing how similar a secular doctrine to a religious doctrine of suppression of Other; how Other is defined as evil and and due to Others innate nature inevitably subject to grievous harm and severest penalty.

    Yet one is rightly suppressed and the other able to spread its dogma of hate without censure. Incredibly those who point this out are censured - so it was in the 1930s.

    Change the foundation text or change nothing.

    by: ThomHH from: Washington, DC
    December 10, 2012 11:10 AM
    Morsi is like a three-year-old looking for one more way around the rules! It does not bode well for Egyptian democracy to have an infant in charge.

    by: Stephen Real from: Columbia, USA
    December 10, 2012 10:57 AM
    Hey Senator John Kerry, Amb. Susan Rice, US Congress, etc.,etc,etc...Why are you not taking Herr Morsi out too the woodshed? He deserves a serious public dress down.

    by: Michael Collins from: Oakland, California
    December 10, 2012 10:48 AM
    It's hard to imagine a stable political system when the constitutional structure only requires 51%. Every time there's another election, their constitution could be rewritten or revoked.

    Better to require at least 60%. You wouldn't be able to pass as many constitutional rules, but those you could pass would have broader appeal.

    The Islamist have come to power partially as a result of many not-so-Islamists who want to see an end to military rule and corruption.

    If they don't maintain their coalition, they may find that in the next election their secular brothers decide to vote for military rule--deciding that's preferable to living in a theocratic state.

    If the 51% can subject everyone to their rules, then when someone else comes to power, they will use the same logic and may wash away everything that you've done.

    by: ali baba from: new york
    December 10, 2012 9:53 AM
    it is over .moersi made has made his mind such as bashier in Sudan ,mullah Omar in Afghanistan. I will not surprise that each one in Egypt is going to kill each other. I will not surprise that large scale of instability will cause serious war in middle east . the prophecy of666 is about to fulfill . now you can figure out who is 666

    by: Edo from: New Mexico
    December 10, 2012 9:33 AM
    Was religion created by man to subjugate women? I think they should reverse sharia law to apply to men and see how religious they remain.

    by: Steve Martin from: Edison NJ
    December 10, 2012 8:06 AM
    What we need to do is shut down voice of america to save money. This Government service is no longer needed . It will help reduce the deficit. Private enterprise already fills this slot.

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