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Egypt's Brotherhood delays Cairo protest

26-11-2012
15:45
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The Muslim Brotherhood has decided to postpone a mass protest it had called for Tuesday in Cairo in the interest of preventing violence, an official from the Islamist group's Freedom and Justice Party said.   

Parties opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood and President Mohamed Morsi, who was propelled to power by the group, have called a protest in Tahrir Square on Tuesday to demonstrate against a decree issued by Morsi last week.   

The Nour Party, a more hardline Islamist party that has come out in support of the Morsi decree, had agreed with the Brotherhood on the postponement, a spokesman for the party said.

On the opposite side, Egyptian opposition politician Hamdeen Sabahy said that protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square would continue until President Mohamed Morsi's decree granting him extra powers was reversed.   

"Our decision is to continue in the square, we will not leave before this declaration is brought down," he said, adding that Tahrir Square would be a model of an "Egypt that will not accept a new dictator because it brought down the old one."   

Sabahy is a leftist who has a launched a movement called the Popular Current. The former presidential candidate has joined several other opposition leaders to denounce Morsi's decree. He was speaking at a news conference broadcast on television.

For his part, President Mohamed Morsi is "very optimistic" that Egyptians will overcome the country's political crisis, his spokesman said, referring to a dispute over a presidential decree that extended Morsi's powers.   

The move set off violent protests recalling the popular revolution last year that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak and led to the rise of Mursi's Islamist movement.   

"President Morsi is very optimistic that Egyptians will overcome this challenge as they have overcome other challenges," presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters, shortly before the president was due to meet judges to try to defuse the row.

Earlier, a Cairo administrative court has set a first hearing for Dec. 4 in a case challenging President Mohamed Morsi's decree granting him extra powers, the court said in a statement.

The case was brought by lawyers and activists, a court source said.   

Other moves by Morsi have been challenged in the courts during Egypt's turbulent transition, and sometimes multiple challenges have been made over his actions.

This as, Protesters continued their open-ended sit-in set up in Tahrir Square as anger continues to rise over the Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s new decree; an amendment protesters view as a declaration against democracy.       

Meanwhile, Egyptian president held a meeting with the Supreme Judicial Council to find means to put an end to the current crisis.               

The Supreme Judicial Council had stressed that Morsi’s constitutional proclamation must be limited to sovereign affairs, stating the possibility of reaching a compromise in order to avoid further escalation, despite the fact that the opposition will not accept less than the abolition of the proclamation.            

On the other hand, clashes continued throughout Sunday evening and Monday morning between protesters and the police officers who fired tear gas in the streets leading to Tahrir Square.              

The movement staged against Morsi’s decree was accompanied by another protest supporting the President's decision as hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood groups gathered outside Mosque of Al-Arish in North Sinai to express their support for Morsi.                         

In this context, the Egyptian opposition activist, Mohammad al-Baradii stressed that he refuses any compromise concerning the Constitutional Proclamation declared by the President Mohammad Morsi last Thursday, whereby he granted himself absolute powers not subject to judicial scrutiny.              

For his part, Egypt's justice minister said on Monday he believed President Mohamed Morsi would agree with the country's highest judicial authority on its proposal that would limit the scope of a presidential decree to expand Morsi's powers.               

The statement issued by the Supreme Judicial Council on Sunday night said Morsi's decree should apply only to "sovereign matters", suggesting it did not reject outright the declaration, which has triggered violent street protests. The council meets Morsi later on Monday.                   

Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky, speaking about the council statement, said: "I believe President Mohamed Morsi wants that." His comments were reported by the official state news agency.

             
On the economic level

Egypt's main stock market index dropped 4 percent on Monday, extending a fall triggered by a political crisis that eroded a tenth of its value the previous day, on worries that a row over an expansion of the president's powers will bring more turmoil.    

At 0840 GMT, just after the market opened, the benchmark index was down 3.9 percent. It is at its lowest level since July this year, shortly after President Mohamed Mursi assumed office. 

Positions:

The White House said on Monday that it has concerns about Morsi's declarations but also acknowledges that the Egyptian president played an important role in Israel-Gaza's cease-fire.


REUTERS/LBCI

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