News / Middle East

    Egyptian President Preparing to Amend Flashpoint Decree

    Edward Yeranian
    Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said Saturday that President Mohamed Morsi is preparing to amend a controversial decree that gave the president sweeping powers, in a push to defuse political tensions and deadly violence gripping the country.

    Speaking on an Egyptian television, Hisham Qandil said a freshly appointed committee was drafting a new decree that could be approved by early Sunday.

    Qandil said the president also wanted talks with elements of the opposition on the possibility of postponing a December 15 referendum on a controversial draft constitution.  No other details were provided.

    The November 22 emergency decree and the draft constitution days later sparked days of violent protest in Cairo and elsewhere in the country.  The president said earlier this week that at least seven people had been killed and hundreds of other injured in the demonstrations. 

    Mohamed Morsi's November 22 Declaration

    • Reopens investigations into killings of protesters
    • Makes decrees issued by Morsi since he took office final and not open to appeal
    • Allows Morsi to appoint prosecutor-general
    • Gives Constituent Assembly two extra months to draft a constitution
    • Says no judicial body can dissolve the upper house of parliament or the Constituent Assembly

    Earlier Saturday, Egypt's top opposition leaders boycotted a national dialogue meeting at the presidential palace Saturday, despite appeals by the country's military to resolve the latest tensions at the negotiating table. 

    An Egyptian military spokesman warned political leaders, in a statement read on state television, that the country was “heading towards a dark tunnel,” unless they sat down and solved their differences. “Dialogue,” he said, “is the best and only way to reach consensus.”

    The military ruled the country following the ouster of former leader Hosni Mubarak in Feb. 2011, until Islamist Mohamed Morsi was elected president in June of this year. The army spokesman also indicated that the armed forces understand their duty to “protect vital public buildings and installations and the interests of [the people].”

    Both state television and the government-owned al Ahram online warned that Morsi would soon issue a decree to reimpose martial law. Egypt had been under martial law for most of the period since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.

    The president issued a constitutional decree several weeks ago giving him sweeping powers until the approval of a new draft constitution, set for a referendum on Dec. 15. Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei called Morsi's refusal to compromise over that constitution “a disaster.”

    A rump committee of mostly Islamists approved the draft document in a marathon overnight session one week ago Friday. Secular, leftist and Christian members of the body pulled out before the document was approved, expressing anger over Islamist domination of the body.

    Despite widespread public anger over the president's moves, life appeared to be mostly normal in the capital Saturday. Street vendors hawked bread, beans and tea along the broad and mostly empty expanse of Cairo's Tahrir Square, as popular protests diminished in intensity.

    Several hundred demonstrators congregated behind a barrier of barbed wire and concrete blocks near the presidential palace as well. Inside the building, a group of mostly Islamist leaders and one opposition figure met for talks with Morsi. Leaders of the main National Salvation Front boycotted the meeting.

    Those leaders insist that they will not negotiate with the president until he revokes a decree giving himself sweeping powers and cancels the Dec. 15 referendum on the controversial new constitution. A referendum of Egyptians living abroad set for Saturday was postponed.

    Ordinary citizens complained about the paralysis of daily life, and the slow-down of state services, including the judiciary, which remains on strike. One middle-aged man complained that opposition protesters were blocking Cairo's main administrative building, saying he can't go to work because the mostly young demonstrators have blocked off the entrance with barbed wire.

    Meanwhile, Islamist leaders issued a statement Saturday, blasting the opposition for “violent protests” and “refusing to submit to the ballot box.” The spiritual guide, or murshid, of Egypt's Islamist Muslim Brotherhood group gave a press conference Saturday, calling on opponents to cease their protests and hold talks.

    He said that what's taking place is not opposition, nor a difference of opinion, but is rather-as he put it-corruption, tyranny and criminality.  He blasted protesters for trying to topple the president, who he says was elected by the people, and urged the opposition to settle their conflict over the new constitution at the ballot box.

    Opposition leaders, however, worry about fraud in the scheduled referendum. President Morsi has claimed in an interview with state television that 80% of the people support the new constitution. The president, however, received just 51.7% of the vote in the June run-off presidential poll.

    You May Like

    Ethiopia's Anti-terrorism Law: Security or Silencing Dissent?

    Yonatan Tesfaye was detained in December 2015 on charges under Ethiopia's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation; eleven statements from his Facebook page were used as evidence

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Brad Naksuthin
    December 11, 2012 8:27 AM

    America needs to learn a lesson from what's happening in Egypt.

    Whenever religious groups gain political power they try to impose their beliefs on EVERYONE...even those who don't worship the same God.
    Religious people delude themselves into thinking they are following the teachings of Allah or God or Jehovah or a divinity they automatically apply their beliefs to EVERYONE else.

    We must be vigilant to prevent something like this happening in the US.

    Already Christians are trying to use political power to force their views on abortion, contraception, stem cell research, euthanasia, same sex marriage, drugs and prostitution etc. on ALL Americans...even those who do not follow their rules or believe in their God.

    There is no difference between the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood and the goals of the Christian Taliban




    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora