Egypt's new constitutional declaration does not target any political group or person but is rather an attempt to achieve the demands of the 25 January Revolution," presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told Ahram Online.
According to Ali, the new declaration does not pave the way for the reinstatement of the People's Assembly (the lower, legislative house of Egypt's parliament), which was dissolved in July by the then-ruling military council following a ruling issued by Egypt's High Constitutional Court.
Rather, Ali explained, "the declaration implies that a new People's Assembly will be elected after the new constitution is passed." Article 2 of the new declaration says that the president’s decisions and decrees cannot be challenged or appealed until the new constitution is approved via popular referendum and a new People’s Assembly is elected.
"We need stability and that's why we cannot afford to have this legal wrangling going on forever," Ali explained, commenting on the fact that the decree gives immunity to all of the president's decisions.
"The president wants to shorten the transitional period and have the new constitution and new People’s Assembly as soon as possible," said Ali. "This explains why [Morsi] wanted to give members of the Constituent Assembly more time to overcome their differences. The new declaration gives the assembly two more months to work on the constitutional draft."
He added: "We don't want to exclude and political group from drafting the constitution – not the liberals nor the leftists nor any other political group – and that's why they need more time to reach consensus."
The president, according to Ali, has made achieving stability a first priority. "There is no way that his decisions can be interpreted as a challenge to the judicial authority, his respect for which President Morsi has repeatedly stressed."
"The president has always had the authority to appoint the prosecutor-general; the president did not give himself the authority to dismiss him," Ali added.
"We need new blood if we really want to pursue investigations into the murder of protestors," Ali asserted, commenting on Article 3 of the declaration, which sets a time limit on the prosecutor-general's term, thus allowing the president to assign a new one.
The decision has been met with criticism on the part of many judges, who see it as another step to undermine the role of the judiciary.