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Egyptian president branded 'new pharaoh' after assuming new powers

Nationwide protests are expected across the country today as Mohamed Morsi gave himself sweeping new powers yesterday.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi
Image: PBG/PBG/Empics Entertainment

EGYPT’S ISLAMIST PRESIDENT Mohamed Morsi assumed sweeping powers yesterday, drawing criticism that he is seeking to become a “new pharaoh” and raising questions about the gains of last year’s uprising which ousted Hosni Mubarak.

The move is a blow to the pro-democracy movement that toppled the long-time president, himself derided by many as a pharaoh, and raises concerns that Islamists will be further ensconced in power.

Opposition forces denounced the declaration as a “coup” and called for nationwide protests today.

“The president can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution,” according to a decree read out on television by presidential spokesman Yasser Ali.

“The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal.”

“This is a coup against legitimacy… We are calling on all Egyptians to protest in all of Egypt’s squares on Friday,” said Sameh Ashour, head of the Lawyers syndicate, in a joint news conference with leading dissidents Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Mussa.

They accused Morsi of “monopolising all three branches of government” and of overseeing “the total execution of the independence of the judiciary.”

‘Cleansing state institutions’

Nobel laureate and former UN atomic energy agency chief ElBaradei had earlier lashed out at the declaration, which would effectively put the president above judicial oversight.

“Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences,” ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account.

The head of the influential Judge’s Club, Ahmed al-Zind, told a press conference that the judges would hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to decide on their next step, promising “actions, not words.”

Morsi also sacked prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmud, whom he failed to oust last month amid strong misgivings among the president’s supporters about the failure to secure convictions of more members of the old regime.

He appointed Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah to replace Mahmud and, within minutes of the announcement, the new prosecutor was shown on television being sworn in.

Abdullah later issued a brief statement on state television, pledging to “work day and night to achieve the goals of the revolution.”

In his pronouncement, the president also ordered “new investigations and retrials” in the cases dealing with the deaths of protesters, a decision that could net senior military officials and see Mubarak reinvestigated.

He also said no judicial body can dissolve the upper house of parliament or the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly that is writing a new constitution and which has been criticised by the secular-minded opposition for failing to represent all segments of society.

The declaration is aimed at “cleansing state institutions” and “destroying the infrastructure of the old regime,” the president’s spokesman said.

- AFP, 2012

Read: 47 children dead in Egypt after train crashes into bus

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