After a week of political unrest and talks of expected confrontation between the Islamists and other groups of Egyptians, President Mohammed Mursi has finally addressed the people and spoke about the constitutional declaration which triggered the tension.

“The declaration meets the requirements of the current period and will expire as soon as a new constitution is approved through a popular referendum,” said President Mohamed Mursi in his state TV interview aired yesterday night.

The decree made all of Mursi’s decisions immune from judicial oversight until the new constitution is ratified and a new Parliament is elected. He added he had “sensed a danger to the nation” and had to conduct “a very careful surgery” to address the situation, the president told his interviewers.

Social media users said Mursi was cornering the people to either accept the constitution which was drafted by Islamists or live with a president who will be a powerful dictator by virtue of this declaration.

Ironically, the general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohmmad Badie accused remnants of the former regime of fuelling the crisis to delay democracy, including disrupting the completion of the country’s new constitution.

“It started with dissolving the Parliament that came from free elections that 30 million people took part in,” Badie said. “Now they want to dissolve the Constituent Assembly,” he said.

The Constituent Assembly, which was formed in June, began voting on the final draft constitution yesterday amid objections from secular political forces. Representatives from the church and several civil forces have withdrawn from the Constituent Assembly in protest against its Islamist dominance.

The President said that the constitutional declaration has popular support and political forces only oppose certain parts of the decree, rather than the entire document. Only his so-called “sovereign” decisions have judicial immunity, he claimed, such as decisions like calling for a constitutional referendum.

Mursi said that judges should not be parties to political disputes. However, he expressed his appreciation for the judicial authorities.

“Judges give rulings based on the constitution and the law. It is not their job to determine the constitutionality of a legislation,” the President asserted, adding that he had only assumed legislative powers due to the absence of an elected Parliament.

Mursi said he removed former Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud in response to revolutionary demands, and the action could not have been delayed any longer.

Recent protests against the constitutional declaration are a “healthy phenomenon,” Mursi opined. He also asked the protesters to demonstrate peacefully and abstain from assaulting security forces or facilities.

The Egyptian President also explained that the retrials of former regime figures implicated in the deaths of protesters in the 25 January revolution, as stipulated by the constitutional decree, are contingent on the discovery of new evidence.

(This article was published on November 30, 2012)
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