Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi told supporters on Firday that Egypt was on the path to “ freedom and democracy,” a day after he assumed sweeping powers in a move critics said made him a dictator.
“Political stability, social stability and economic stability are what I want and that is what I am working for,” he told an Islamist rally outside the presidential palace in Heliopolis, Cairo.
Secular opponents staged a rival rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square to denounce Mursi's power grab.
“ I have always been, and still am, and will always be, God willing, with the pulse of the people, what the people want, with clear legitimacy” he said from a podium before thousands of supporters.
Earlier, MENA news agency quoted him as saying: “No one can stop our march forward... I am performing my duty to please God and the nation and I take decisions after I consult with everyone.”
At the time thousands of protesters were pouring to Tahrir Square, denouncing Mursi’s power grab and calling for his downfall, the President, formerly of the Muslim Brotherhood, told his supporters that law will be enforced, accusing supporters of ousted Hosni Mubarak of creating chaos in the country.
Mursi attacked his opponents in the judiciary who annulled the Islamist-dominated parliament before his election in June and were considering voiding an Islamist-dominated constituent assembly next month.
His decree, granting himself unprecedented power, will expire when a new constitution is approved by the middle of February.
But his opponents say he has become a dictator with even more power than Mubarak, who was toppled in a popular mass uprising in early 2011.
Liberals, Christian churches and representatives of journalists had already withdrawn from the constituent assembly, saying it was undemocratic and increasing the possibility of a court annulment.
“Law will be enforced no matter what and I will stand firm against all those who attempt to destroy Egypt and hinder its democratic endeavor,” Mursi added.
Assuring his supporters that Egypt is moving towards freedom, democracy and change, Musri said that all laws enacted and decisions taken were for the benefit of the country and were not meant under whatsoever circumstances to enlarge his constitutional powers.
“Whenever I see the country and the revolution in danger, I have to intervene and resort to the law and hold accountable all those who work to obstruct the country’s move to democracy.”