Last Updated: Sun Dec 02, 2012 10:45 am (KSA) 07:45 am (GMT)

Egypt’s Islamists surround Supreme Court ahead of session on constituent assembly

Hundreds of supporters of President Mohamed Mursi gathered outside Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court early on Dec. 2, 2012. (AFP)
Hundreds of supporters of President Mohamed Mursi gathered outside Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court early on Dec. 2, 2012. (AFP)

Hundreds of Islamists marched towards the High Constitutional Court (HCC) in Cairo on Saturday night, ahead of a Sunday court session expected to issue a ruling on the Constituent Assembly’s legality.

Supporters of President Mohamed Mursi spent the night outside the Constitutional Court headquarters building in Cairo, as the court is scheduled on Sunday to review lawsuits demanding the dissolving of the current constituent body.

The president’s recent constitutional decree prevents the top legal body the Supreme Constitutional Court from potentially dissolving the Islamist-run constituent assembly.

In the same vain, Mursi called late on Saturday for a Dec. 15 referendum on a draft constitution and urged a national dialogue on the "concerns of the nation" as the country nears the end of the transition from Hosni Mubarak's rule.

Mursi was speaking after receiving the final draft of the constitution from the Islamist-dominated assembly that wrote it.

He urged "all citizens to examine in detail and objectively the articles of the draft" constitution.

He reiterated his call "to reopen a real dialogue over the concerns of the nation ... to end the transitional phase as quickly as possible and protect our newborn democracy."

The constitution has taken center stage in the country's worst political crisis since Mursi's election in June, squaring Islamist forces against secular-leaning opponents.

Liberals, leftists and Christians walked out of the constituent assembly, leaving a largely Islamist panel in charge of drafting the charter which has been criticized for failing to represent all Egyptians.

"Mursi put to referendum a draft constitution that undermines basic freedoms & violates universal values. The struggle will continue," tweeted leading dissident and former U.N. nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

Mursi addressed the nation on Saturday night following the finalization of the draft constitution, amid mass rallies in the country turning out to support and oppose the president.

Tens of thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo on Friday to pile pressure on Mursi after a panel dominated by fellow Islamists rushed through the controversial draft constitution.

The draft constitution, which was finalized following a 15 hour-long voting process by 85 members from the 100 member beleaguered assembly, is expected to be ratified by Mursi.

Mursi will review the draft on Saturday, said assembly head Ghiriani, and is then expected to call for a popular referendum within two weeks.

Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, along with fellow Islamist movements, called for mass rallies on Saturday to support Mursi, a day after thousands of the president’s opponents protested in several governorates to denounce the latest constitutional declaration.

Tens of thousands of anti-Mursi protesters have claimed over the past few days the draft restricts freedom of speech, minorities’ rights, and places other limitations on freedoms.

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