Egyptian Draft Constitution Expected As Anti-Morsi Protests Continue

Last updated (GMT/UTC): 28.11.2012 16:10

The head of the assembly drafting Egypt's new constitution says the final draft should be finished on November 28, as protests continue against Islamist President Muhammad Morsi's assuming sweeping powers.

Morsi insists his new powers will remain in effect until a new constitution is approved in a referendum.

Assembly speaker Hossam el-Gheriyani said at the start of the November 28 session, "We will start now and finish today, God willing."

Leading opposition figure Amr Moussa, who withdrew from the assembly last month, immediately criticized the announcement, saying it was misguided to conclude the constitutional process so fast.

Meanwhile, hundreds of anti-Morsi protesters gathered for an eighth day in Cairo's Tahrir Square, while pro-Morsi Islamists announced nationwide demonstrations for December 1.

Tens of thousands of people rallied in Cairo and other cities on November 27, and the next day police fired tear gas to disperse protesters outside Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Morsi says the measures are only temporary and are necessary to protect democratic changes begun after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year.

Judiciary Pushes Back

Also on November 28, Egypt's Court of Cassation and Court of Appeals announced they were suspending work until Morsi rescinded the decrees expanding his powers and exempting his decisions from judicial review.

Court of Cassation Judge Diaa Abdel Maguid told the media that Morsi must rescind his decree immediately.

"Now that the Cassation Court has decided to suspend its work, Morsi will have to withdraw his decree and not just amend it. He definitely needs to cancel it," Maguid said.

Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court on November 28 also accused President Morsi of leading a campaign to discredit it.

A Supreme Constitutional Court spokesman rejected Morsi's accusations that the court is working against Islamists.

In June, the court dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament, just days before Morsi took office as Egypt's first freely elected president.

Court spokesman Maher Samy said that since then, the court has been the object of attacks.

"But the really sad thing that pained the judges of this court was when the president of the republic joined, abruptly and in a vicious way, in a long and continuing campaign against the Supreme Constitutional Court," Samy said.

He denied the court's decisions were biased and said it would "not be lenient in responding" to the accusations.

"It was not correct or truthful that the judges of the Constitutional Court are chosen from among certain political tendencies or that they are loyal to the former regime," Samy said.

Last week's decrees also barred the judiciary from dissolving the Islamist-dominated assembly that is drafting the new constitution.

In a meeting with senior judges last week, Morsi agreed that his new powers would apply only to "sovereign" matters.

But he insisted they remained in effect until a new constitution was approved in a referendum and parliamentary elections were held.

At least two people have been killed and dozens injured in violence since Morsi issued his decrees last week.

With reporting by Reuters, dpa, AFP, and BBC