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Third adviser to Mursi resigns as Egypt plunges into chaos

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A third advisor to the Egyptian president resigned on Sunday as clashes between protesters and police resumed for the second day in Cairo following presidential decrees that gave Mohammed Mursi sweeping powers.

Farouq Jweideh stepped down in protest against Mursi’s controversial decrees. Yesterday two other advisers, Sakina Fouad and Samir Morcos, resigned as liberal revolutionary forces scrambled to join efforts to overcome the powerful Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Minister of Justice Ahmed Mekky said in statements to MBC Egypt that he had “reservations” on President Mursi’s constitutional declaration and blamed politicians in both government and opposition camps for the instability in Egypt.

The president already held both and executive and legislative powers, and his Thursday decree puts him beyond judicial oversight until a new constitution has been ratified in a referendum.

The measures are valid only until the new constitution now being drafted is adopted, and supporters argue they will hasten what has been a turbulent and seemingly endless transition to democracy.

In Cairo, a statement by some 20 “independent judges” said that while some of the decisions taken by the president were a response to popular demands, they were issued “at the expense of freedom and democracy.”

Morsi has ordered the reopening of investigations into the deaths of some 850 protesters during the 2011 uprising, and hundreds more since.

New prosecutor general Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah said new “revolutionary courts” would be set up and could see former president Hosni Mubarak, his sons and his top security chiefs retried “should there be new evidence.”

Mubarak and his interior minister were sentenced to life over the killing of protesters in last year’s popular uprising against him, but six security chiefs were acquitted in the same case sparking nationwide outrage.

In an address to supporters outside the presidential palace on Friday, Morsi had insisted Egypt remained on the path to “freedom and democracy”, despite his move to undercut the judiciary.

“Political stability, social stability and economic stability are what I want and that is what I am working for,” he said.

It also means that the Islamist-dominated panel drawing up the new charter can no longer be touched and gives it a two-month extension until February to complete its work.
A hard core of opposition activists spent the night in Tahrir Square -- epicenter of the anti-Mubarak uprising -- where they erected some 30 tents, an AFP correspondent reported.

When others attempted to join them in the morning, police fired volleys of tear gas and forced them to retreat into surrounding streets.

The mainly secular liberals say they are determined to keep up the momentum of protests against Mursi's decree and have called a new mass protest in Tahrir for Tuesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood called on its own supporters to take to the streets in Abdeen Square, just streets away from Tahrir, to show their support for Mursi.

“Egypt is at the start of a new revolution because it was never our intention to replace one dictator with another,” activist Mohammed al-Gamal told AFP, showing his broken spectacles and hand in a plaster cast than he said were the result of police action.