Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi speaks to supporters in front of the presidential palace in Cairo November 23, 2012. (Photo: REUTERS)
Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali stated late on Monday that President Mohamed Morsi'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." Tens of thousands demonstrated against the move on Friday in Cairo and in other Egyptian governorates.
The decree states 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 decree has also sparked fear among judges, who perceive it as a potential threat to judicial independence. Some Egyptian courts have declared partial strikes to protest the declaration.
In his statement, Ali stressed the president's respect for Egypt's judicial institutions and their independence, noting that Morsi was keen to avoid clashing with the judiciary.
Regarding the article in the decree calling for the retrial of police and Mubarak-era officials implicated in killing protesters, Ali clarified that the article would only apply "in cases in which new evidence has emerged."