News / Middle East

Egyptian President Annuls Emergency Decree

Egyptian army soldiers stand guard in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
Egyptian army soldiers stand guard in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
VOA News
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has annulled a decree he issued last month granting him sweeping emergency powers, in a push to defuse political tensions and deadly violence gripping the country.

But a spokesman, speaking late Saturday in Cairo, said a referendum on a controversial draft constitution will still go forward as planned December 15.

There has been no formal opposition response to the decree annulment, and it was not immediately clear what impact it will have on opposition protesters who have camped out near the presidential palace since Tuesday.

The two issues -- the decree and the referendum -- are at the heart of anti-Morsi demonstrations that have rocked the country for much of the past two weeks. 

  • An Egyptian protester reads the newspaper as others sit next to their tents in Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 9, 2012
  • Egyptian men stand near writing on a wall in Arabic that reads down with the leader's rule, no to the Muslim Brotherhood in Tahrir Square in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
  • An Egyptian jet fighter flys over Tahrir Square as protesters gather, not pictured, in Cairo, December 9, 2012.
  • Anti-Mursi protesters walk near a military tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 8, 2012.
  • Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood welcome tanks arriving outside the Egyptian presidential palace in Cairo, December 6, 2012.
  • Egyptian Army soldiers install barbed wire outside the presidential palace to secure the site of overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 6, 2012
  • Anti-Morsi protesters set off fireworks and shine laser pointers on a road leading to the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 6, 2012.
  • Protesters gather during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 5, 2012.
  • A wounded protester reacts during clashes between supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi outside the presidential palace in Cairo, December 5, 2012.
  • Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi carry a body of one of six victims killed during Wednesday's clashes, Al Azhar mosque, Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.
  • Protesters opposing president Mohamed Morsi attend Friday prayers beneath a poster depicting protesters killed in the Egyptian revolution, Tahrir Square, Cairo, Egypt, December 7, 2012.

An opposition umbrella of liberals, secularists and supporters of the former regime claim the draft constitution was pushed through by President Morsi's Islamist backers, without opposition participation. They have demanded the referendum be canceled and a new draft formulated with opposition input.

Opposition leaders also accuse the president of using the November 22 decree to create what they say is strong-arm rule reminiscent of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.

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

The decree and the draft constitution days later sparked violent protests in Cairo and elsewhere in the country. 

The president said earlier this week that at least seven people had been killed and hundreds of others injured in the demonstrations.   

The latest developments were announced after day-long meetings between key Islamist backers of the president and delegates from opposition groups. However, the main opposition alliance did not attend, prompting some analysts to predict the presidential decree annulment will have little practical effect in the standoff.

The Egyptian daily newspaper Al-Ahram quotes Islamic scholar Mohamed Selim El-Awa, who attended Saturday's meeting, as saying a new drafting panel will be formed and a new constitution written with six months, if voters reject the current draft at the December 15 polls.

Egypt's military encouraged both sides on Saturday to resolve political differences through dialogue.  It was the military's first public pronouncements on the crisis since it erupted more than two weeks ago.

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Comment Sorting
by: Michael from: USA
December 09, 2012 9:28 AM
It is not possible that a legal ballot or legal decree can be the object at the heart of anti-Morsianism because these objects have to do neither with the Egyptian people (they haven't yet been enforced) nor with patriotism (the opposition has a wide following not a narrow Egypt for Egypt position)

by: Chris Andrew from: Sacramento,CA
December 08, 2012 9:36 PM
The Egyptian Islamist Constitution being floated is an offense to all humanity. They do not even bar slavery! I don't see how this Arab spring has been beneficial to the people of Egypt or the world in general.
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
December 09, 2012 3:20 AM
I agree

by: ali baba from: new york
December 08, 2012 8:26 PM
it is the game of deception .he play a game two steps forward and one step backward. He cancel the grip of power but referendum will take place and establish Islamic law. .by this way ,he will weaken the opposition and achieve his goal
In Response

by: Lilypondlane from: washington d.c.
December 09, 2012 3:17 AM
Mr, Baba, respectfully, life itself is simply the movement of one step forward, two backwards, or however you view it. Mankind has been doing this since he began life on earth. Maybe Morsi fooled many peoples, but so do many many politicians, including America's Bush getting us into Iraq needlessly. Life cannot move forward without resistance to the status quo. How sad that Egypt seems so destined to go back two more steps after moving one step forward. How sad is the deception of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Egyptian majority.

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