News / Africa

Egypt's Morsi Pledges to Restrict New Powers to 'Sovereign' Matters

Egypt's Pro-, Anti-Morsi Forces Plan Mass Rallies Tuesdayi
|| 0:00:00
X
Elizabeth Arrott
November 26, 2012 7:15 PM
Opponents and supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi are planning mass, rival demonstrations Tuesday, following his declaration of sweeping new powers. VOA's Elizabeth Arrott has more from Cairo.

Egypt's Pro, Anti Morsi Forces Plan Mass Rallies Tuesday

Elizabeth ArrottMichael Lipin
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has promised the country’s top judges that he will restrict his newly self-granted powers to sovereign matters.
 
Morsi spokesman Yasser Ali said the Islamist president made the pledge Monday during talks with the Supreme Judicial Council. There was no definition of the sovereign matters over which President Morsi will have absolute power. He granted himself that power in a November 22 decree that bars the judiciary from challenging his decisions. 

Mohamed Morsi

  • Removed from power on July 3, 2013 after massive protests
  • Elected president in June, 2012-Led the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party
  • Elected to parliament in 2005
  • Received a PhD from University of Southern California in 1982
  • Born in Sharqiya in the Nile Delta in 1951
The spokesman said Morsi’s clarification on the issue of "sovereign matters" does not constitute a change to the decree. 
 
Opposition groups were preparing to hold a mass protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Tuesday to demand the cancellation of Morsi's decree. They accuse him of trying to assume dictatorial powers like those of his longtime predecessor Hosni Mubarak, who was ousted in a 2011 popular uprising. 
 
Morsi has defended his move as a temporary measure to speed up democratic reforms delayed by legal challenges under a judicial system with many Mubarak-era appointees. He has said his decree will last until new parliamentary elections are held under a revised constitution that must be approved in a national referendum. 
 
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement had planned to rally in Cairo on Tuesday in support of the president, but it called off the event, saying it wants to avoid confrontation. 
 
A protester throws stones at riot police during clashes at Tahrir square in Cairo November 26, 2012.A protester throws stones at riot police during clashes at Tahrir square in Cairo November 26, 2012.
x
A protester throws stones at riot police during clashes at Tahrir square in Cairo November 26, 2012.
A protester throws stones at riot police during clashes at Tahrir square in Cairo November 26, 2012.
Opposition activists also launched a legal challenge to Morsi’s decree on Monday, filing lawsuits in an administrative court that said it will begin hearing the cases on December 4. 
 
The presidential decree triggered several days of street battles between Morsi opponents, supporters and police in major Egyptian cities.

Authorities said the clashes killed an Islamist activist and wounded at least 370 other people. Thousands of people gathered in the northern Nile Delta town of Damanhour on Monday for the funeral of the teenage Islamist, who was killed the previous day when anti-Morsi rioters stormed a Muslim Brotherhood office. 

Morsi's rationale

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Oct. 7, 2012.Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Oct. 7, 2012.
x
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Oct. 7, 2012.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Oct. 7, 2012.
Morsi argues he needs to sweep the judiciary of the old guard to ensure a new constitution and parliament.

But the desire for checks and balances against absolute power, a driving force in last year's revolution, remains.

Morsi's opponents hope the power of the street will act as a check on what some are calling his attempt to become “a new pharaoh.”

“I think it is a bit of an exaggeration, not because I know his intentions  -  I really don't care about his intentions  - but I think he cannot really become a new pharaoh and what we've witnessed over the past few days really testifies to that,” said activist Khalil.

The rallies have reinvigorated a fractured opposition.

Political analyst Mustafa el-Labbad said that Tuesday's protest was called by everyone from leftists to nationalists.

“All non-Islamic forces will be there and I think this result is not so bright for Mr. Morsi,” he said.

Wide impact

Ramifications are being felt economically, with Egypt's stock market plunging despite a new preliminary deal with the International Monetary Fund, and international kudos for Egypt's role in brokering a cease-fire in Gaza last week.

“They are misinterpreting that as a green light for them as Western recognition so they can do what they want internally in Egypt," el-Labbad said. "I think it is a fatal mistake.”

Failing to stop the nation's economic decline is worrying.  

“I think that contributed to the anger against him - that he didn't attempt to do that," political activist Khalil said. "Had he, for instance, tried to do something for the people, to introduce improvement in livelihoods and the judges stopped it, then he would have had a case."

U.S. reaction

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States has concerns about the Morsi decree but considers that to be a separate issue from the Egyptian president’s mediation of a November 21 cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas. 
 
Carney reiterated U.S. praise for what he called Mr. Morsi’s “constructive” role in achieving the truce. He also said Washington will keep working toward an Egyptian transition to a democratic government that reflects the will of the people.

In Washington, U.S. Senator John McCain criticized Morsi's decree as "unacceptable," in an interview with the television network Fox News.

The Obama administration has proposed a $1 billion debt relief package for Egypt to help revive its struggling economy. Egypt also has received billions of dollars in U.S. military aid over three decades of close relations.

The U.S. State Department said the Morsi declarations "raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community." It said one of the aspirations of the 2011 revolution was "to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution."

VOA's Mark Snowiss contributed to this report from Washington

  • Protesters chant anti-government slogans in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, November 30, 2012.
  • Protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, November 30, 2012.
  • Merchants sell bread to protesters, some of whom have camped out in tents since last week, as opposition groups plan to gather for a rally in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 30, 2012.
  • Youths climb a wall that was built by police to prevent clashes between protesters and police at Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 29, 2012.
  • Youths walk next to a pirate flag on display by a street vendor in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 29, 2012.
  • Riot police and protesters throw stones at one another during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • Protesters run during clashes with police near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • A protester carries stones to throw at the police during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • A protester reads the Wafd, a local newspaper next to tents occupied by protesters in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, Egypt, November 28, 2012.
  • A shot of Tahrir Square in Cairo as night falls, November 27, 2012. (J. Weeks/VOA)
  • Egyptian security forces arrest a protester during clashes near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 27, 2012.
  • An Egyptian protester blows a stadium horn as he gestures at a cordon of security forces near Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, November 27, 2012.
  • A protester throws stones at riot police during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo November 26, 2012.
  • Egyptians attend the funeral of youth activist Gaber Salah, also known as Gika, at the Omar Makram mosque in Cairo, November 26, 2012.
  • An Egyptian protester runs during clashes with security forces near Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, November 25, 2012.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ali baba from: new york
November 26, 2012 3:44 PM
during mubark,egyption people enjoy freedom ,belive it or not. then the revolution erupted and they call for demcracy. and who call for democracy muslim brotherhood .many amercan belive them and see what is out come?


by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
November 26, 2012 7:51 AM
I don't recall senator John McCain having ever said during his long career in the senate that anything the Democracts do was acceptable, or anything that Hosni Mubarak did in Egypt for 32 years was unacceptable! He is pre-programmed on any political issue! Nikos Retsos, retired professor

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid