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.

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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 gimmick.it is poised to undermine Egyptian tansitions to modern democracy.in 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

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