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Presidency assures constitutional declaration is temporary

Egypt's presidency releases a statement justifying President Morsi's controversial decree issued Thursday; confirms it will include opposition in dialogue over constitution

Ahram Online, Sunday 25 Nov 2012
Presidency seeks dialogue with opposition
In this Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, President Mohammed Morsi speaks to supporters outside the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt while tens of thousands protest constitutional declaration in Tahrir Square. (Photo: Reuters)
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The office of the president released a statement to the media Sunday assuring that the constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsi last week is only a temporary measure, necessary to follow up on corruption crimes and protect elected bodies.

The statement said there is a need to hold accountable those responsible of corruption under the former regime and during the transitional period, as well as to attain the rights of the revolution's martyrs, which can only be accomplished by the declaration.

"The presidency reiterates the temporary nature of the said measures, which are not meant to concentrate powers, but on the contrary to devolve it to democratically elected parliament and to avoid any attempt to undermine or abort two democratically elected bodies (the upper house of parliament and the Constituent Assembly), as well as preserving the impartiality of the judiciary and to void politicising it," the statement read.

The statement also sought to assure the country's political forces will all be included in a national dialogue to reach consensus over the constitution.

Meanwhile, President Morsi has been holding meetings with advisors and aides to discuss the current crisis that followed the new constitutional declaration. 

A meeting is planned between the president and the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Monday. The SJC released a statement earlier announcing their refusal of the constitutional declaration, describing Morsi's move as an "unprecedented attack on judicial independence."

Justice Minister Ahmed Mekki has intervened to mediate between the judiciary and the presidency, holding a meeting Sunday with the SJC after judges threatened to strike in protest against the declaration. 

The declaration issued by Morsi blocks the judiciary, or any other body, from challenging Morsi's decisions legally. The decree also guarantees the Shura Council (the upper house of parliament) and the controversial Islamist-led Constituent Assembly against dissolution by court order.

The declaration further included the sacking of the prosecutor general, who Morsi had attempted to remove some weeks ago but could not due to a prior legal barrier.

Morsi also ordered the retrial of ousted president Hosni Mubarak and aides in relation to the killing of protesters during the January 25 Revolution.

Commentators, critics and protesters soon dubbed Morsi as the "new Pharaoh," branding the new constitutional declaration as dictatorial.

Tens of thousands took to the streets Friday to protest the declaration. Rights organisations also released statements condemning Morsi's decisions while several presidential advisors resigned their positions in protest.  

Hundreds of judges also held an extraordinary meeting Saturday rejecting the declaration and announcing they would commence strike action.

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