Egypt’s Mursi annuls controversial decree, opposition says not enough


Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi on Saturday annulled a constitutional declaration he issued last month expanding his powers, but the effects of that declaration would stand, an official told a Cairo news conference.

A referendum on a draft constitution would however still go ahead as planned on Dec.15, the official, Islamist politician Selim al-Awa, said as he relayed the substance of a meeting between Mursi and political leaders.

Amr Moussa said holding the constitution on Dec. 15 “puts the whole nation” in danger.

The two issues –the decree and the referendum – were at the heart of anti-Mursi protests that have rocked Egypt in the past two weeks.

Gamal Fahmi, member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, told Al Arabiya that those who took part in talk with Mursi represented themselves only, adding that the new constitutional declaration did not address the “fundamental” problem, which he said was in the assembly that was tasked to draft the constitution.

George Isaac, activist and member of the Constitution Party, also told Al Arabiya that Mursi’s declaration did not offer anything news. “The ceiling of the people’s demands is very high, and this constitutional declaration does not answer people’s demands.”

He said activists would discuss new ways to escalate pressure against the president.

The National Salvation Front rejected President Mursi’s decision to annul his previous decrees as an attempt save face.

The April 6 Movement also dismissed Mursi’s move, saying that he failed to address the constitution, which will be voted on Dec. 15.

Tareq al-Khouli, a spokesman for the movement, told Al Arabiya,“ We need to draft the constitution which does not represent the Egyptians as a whole, but only the president and his group.”

The controversial decree issued November 22 had put Mursi's decisions beyond judicial review -- a high-handed measure fiercely denounced as dictatorial by the opposition.

Opposition leaders demanded it be rescinded and the referendum be scrapped before they entered into any dialogue with Mursi to calm a crisis which exploded into street clashes this week that left seven people dead and hundreds injured.

Egypt's powerful military on Saturday warned Mursi and the opposition to sit down for talks, otherwise it would take steps to prevent a "disastrous" degradation of the situation.