News / Middle East

Senior Egyptian Judges to Supervise Morsi's Constitutional Referendum

Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans as riot police, left, stand guard in front of the entrance of Egypt’s top court, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012.
Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans as riot police, left, stand guard in front of the entrance of Egypt’s top court, in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012.
VOA News
Egypt's most senior judges have agreed to supervise a December 15 referendum on a new constitution drafted primarily by Islamists, giving a boost to President Mohammed Morsi, who called the vote.

The Supreme Judicial Council Monday said it will delegate officials to oversee the referendum, rejecting a call by lower-ranked judges with the influential Judges Club for a boycott. The Judges Club issued a statement Sunday urging a boycott as a protest against Mr. Morsi's November 22 decree that bars any courts from challenging his decisions.

President Morsi needs judicial supervision of the referendum to legitimize it and the constitution drafted by his allies in a constituent assembly, which handed him the document on Saturday. Officials said they were moving ahead with referendum plans, including arrangements for Egyptian expatriates to cast their ballots at diplomatic missions abroad.

Morsi's liberal and secular opponents, including many junior judges, want to delegitimize the constitutional referendum by refusing to participate. They accuse the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly of drafting a charter that would threaten civil liberties by imposing a stricter interpretation of Islam. Liberals and Christians boycotted the constitution-drafting process.

An opposition coalition is planning a march to President Morsi's Cairo office Tuesday to denounce his planned referendum and demand that he scrap the decree that granted him what they see as near-dictatorial powers. Mr. Morsi has promised to lift the decree once the public approves a new constitution in a referendum.

Several independent Egyptian newspapers said they will join the protest by refusing to print their Tuesday editions.

Adding to the sense of crisis, Egypt's top court began an indefinite strike on Sunday, joining other courts that stopped work in recent days due to what they see as Mr. Morsi's assault on the judiciary. The judges of the Supreme Constitutional Court said they were afraid to approach their offices because thousands of Islamists had massed outside.

The top court had been due to issue rulings that could have dissolved the constituent assembly and the upper house of parliament, also controlled by Islamists. The court's Islamist critics say it is biased against them because its judges were appointed by Hosni Mubarak, a longtime anti-Islamist president who was ousted last year in a popular uprising.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Selim from: Sydney
December 03, 2012 3:48 AM
I don’t think Egypt and the Egyptians need a president
I think Egypt needs an elected Prime Minister rather than a president with a specific agenda to tackle issues like Economy, Unemployment, internal security and Human rights. Terms of service of round 2 years. A president maybe appointed by the Prime Minister to serve in a ceremonial role rather than becoming drunk with power as in the current situation.
President Morsi, in less than 3 months managed to divide his people and the nation, right in the middle
President Morsi is only supported by the extreme right not for anything other than his Islamic agenda
What we have seen so far is simply political hooliganism not Democracy
I would like to see the opposition in Parliament on TV not on the streets of Cairo!!
Democracy is not just demonstrations and vote. These are just the apparent features of it . The rest have never been practiced in Egypt since the British occupation.
Before replacing the constitution, Egyptians should review and upgrade their stand on human rights and how to device a document or a declarations that would comply with international standards.

by: Noah Olatunde from: Lagos,Nigeria
December 03, 2012 2:12 AM
president Mursi decision to arrogate himself total absolutism is preposterous and a political is poised to undermine Egyptian tansitions to modern fact it is indeed a coup de act against legitimacy.I must commend his diplomatic effort to brokered a truce between Israel and Palestines.Mursi needs to focus on how to integrate oppositions and forge a prospects for Egyptian youths.

by: Paul from: Cairo
December 02, 2012 5:45 PM
The whole principle of this is wrong.

Let me push the extreme:
1. All Egyptians are stupid and must be led by a leader:
Yes or No.
100% No, 0% Yes
Obviously everyone would vote no.

but if the default or abstain answer is Yes (i.e what Mursi has said: vote or I have all power,, then of course people vote no)

So what happens when you are confronted with a constitution that 60% agree with, 40 % disagree, what do you do ?
Most would vote NO, but when faced with an alternative of dictactorship ? most will vote yes.

Egypt is a growing democracy and must be supported.
Do not let minority groups (there are many) drive the agenda.

The constitution is hundreds of articals long. Let the people decide.
What is wrong with a vote every weekend on a few articals ?
In the west this would be seen as a joke but in an emerging democracy with good prospects, and possible dire consiquences, why not ?

Egypt as a people desrve better, do not let the Brotherhood take all power, they represent a large pecentage but not all.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 02, 2012 8:01 PM
how far is too far. .It does not make sense that country has long history .and then overnight change to islamic state . liberal oppose it.judges oppese it. many common people said that moersy want to please his muslim brotherhood on the expenses of other . the old law is good and its soureces from french law. islamic law is not fit for civilzed country and he sees how many people reject it .still want paly the game of voting and he know most the egyptian are not eligible to vote .they are illiterate . how a iliterate person make a clear evalution and take his decision based on fact .how illterate person know the consequence of islamic law which cause hardship because tourist will not come to Egypt and the right of christain will diminish.
moersy stop telling liar.moersy stop use trick and deception

by: ali baba from: newyork
December 02, 2012 11:02 AM
the news will never end about how moersy impose himself. even the civil disobidence for two weeks .moresy is in defiance. He is a person who is fanatic.and use the expression my way or the highway. He will continue until the country is totally destroyed by punch of fanatic .they do it again.they did it in sudan.they did it in labonon,.they do it in afignistan .and egypt is on its way of destruction

by: Michael from: USA
December 02, 2012 10:19 AM
If the Egyptian judges could take an unselfish view of the matter and understand that national stability is at stake, they would have shown advance in understanding: see the work of Dr Eugen Bleuler [1857-1939 AD, Swiss] who spoke of the "non-I" perspective of the human-rights workers
In Response

by: Charles from: USA
December 03, 2012 9:33 AM
He who sacrifices liberty for security deserves neither, and will lose both.

- Benjamin Franklin

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs