‘A major blow to the revolution’ says ElBaradei as president hands himself sweeping new powers
EGYPTIAN reformists who risked their lives to overthrow the Hosni Mubarak regime last year have reacted with horror to the decision of his successor, President Mohammed Morsi, to hand himself new powers above any court in the land. It amounts to “presidential tyranny”, they say.
A day after winning international acclaim for brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Morsi yesterday issued a decree making himself the “ultimate force” in a country that has no parliament and has yet to draft a new constitution. He also ordered a re-trial of his 84-year-old predecessor.
As The Daily Telegraph explains, the decree allows Morsi to “issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution” and ensures that any “constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal”.
Crucially, the decree appears to bar the courts from attempting to dissolve the assembly which is writing the country’s new constitution. Secularists have accused the body of wanting to impose sharia, or Islamic law.
The tightening of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood party’s grip on power has been broadly condemned. “Morsi today usurped all state powers [and] appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh,” Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, said on Twitter. “A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences.”
Abdel-Halim Qandi, editor of as-Sawt newspaper, told The Guardian: “Morsi was elected as a president. Now he is behaving like a king. This is a coup against the Egyptian revolution.”
Cairo residents interviewed by the Telegraph were equally angered. Mohammed Said, a 50-year-old accountant, said: “He has given himself immunity and he has given the constitutent assembly immunity and he is attacking the judiciary’s independence. He has just made himself a new Allah.”
Mustafa Taha, 30, said: “I think the regime is authoritarian and it’s an extension of the old regime. Nothing has changed.”
The decision to re-try former president Mubarak and other officials of his regime accused of killing protestors during the 2011 uprising is a different matter. As the Guardian says, the move is seen as an attempt to quell anger over what is perceived as “the widespread impunity” they have enjoyed in the courts. Many Egyptians believe the life sentence given to Mubarak was too lenient.
The deep divisions within Egypt were highlighted last night when a Muslim Brotherhood protest in front of Cairo’s main court called on Morsi to “purify” the judiciary while protestors in nearby Tahir Square held pictures depicting Morsi as “half himself and half Mubarak”.