Mursi stands by decree assuming far-reaching powers

Cairo, Nov 27: Egyptian President Muhammed Mursi has made it clear to the judiciary that he did not infringe on its authority by assuming sweeping powers, as the opposition planned "million-man" marches to protest the "attack on democracy".

Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali late yesterday said that President Mursi's recent controversial decree would not be subject to modification, noting that the decree may have been "misunderstood" by the public.

The decree, issued by the presidency on Thursday night, was met with outrage by Egypt's political opposition, who described it as an "attack on democracy" and a "threat to judicial independence."

The decree stated that presidential decisions will enjoy temporary immunity from legal challenge.

The decree also protects Egypt's Islamist-led Constituent Assembly, tasked with drafting a new constitution, and the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament) from dissolution by court order.

"The decree will only immunise the President's sovereign decisions (from legal challenges)," asserted Ali, stressing the measure's temporary nature.

The statement was issued following the President's meeting with senior judicial figures.

The spokesman said Mursi told the judges that he acted within his right as the nation's sole source of legislation when he issued decrees putting himself above judicial oversight.

The members of the Supreme Judicial Council have said that the crisis between the judicial and executive branches is not over.

Mursi expressed his appreciation for the judiciary and his desire that it remain independent as it is "the last resort for the people to get their rights," Ali said.

Opposition parties and groups have called for mass rallies and "million-man" marches today to protest the decree.

A sit-in has been ongoing in the Tahrir Square since Friday.

The Muslim Brotherhood had called on its supporters to protest today in support of the declaration, however, late last night the Brotherhood cancelled all protests planned by their supporters.

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