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Egyptian PM: Morsy's edict could be moot in 12 days

December 3rd, 2012
06:05 PM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff

A controversial edict issued by Egypt's president - which spurred vigorous, sometimes violent protests by those calling it a dictatorial power grab - "will fall immediately" if voters approve a new constitution later this month, the country's prime minister said.

Echoing President Mohamed Morsy and other government officials, Prime Minister Hesham Kandil said the November 21 decree that made Morsy's past and future decisions immune to judicial oversight was issued "to protect the process of building the democratic institutions."

Regardless, Kandil told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that it should be a moot point after December 15, when Egyptians will approve or reject a new constitution in a nationwide referendum.

"We're talking about one hour (and) 12 days until this declaration drops," the prime minister said late Monday night. "So I don't think people should worry about the declaration. We should now worry about what is coming, which is the constitution." 

Q & A: What's driving Egypt's unrest?

The draft document that voters will consider is itself a source of significant controversy.

Egypt effectively has been without a constitution since the early 2011 popular uprising that led to longtime President Hosni Mubarak's ouster.

Morsy won a tight presidential election and took office in June, soon assuming not only executive powers but legislative ones with the dissolution of the elected parliament. Meanwhile, his government often was at odds with members of the judiciary, many of which are holdovers from the Mubarak era.

In addition to declaring his decisions immune from judicial oversight, the president gave the then-100-member group charged with crafting Egypt's constitution extra time to do so.

But given the charged protests against him, Morsy expedited the process over objections from the secular opposition, some of whom walked out of the constitutional assembly in protest.

That group ended up being dominated by Islamists, including members of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party that Morsy once led. Kandil insisted Monday opposition views - including that there would be protections for women and to prevent Egypt from becoming a theocracy - were taken into consideration when the final draft was pushed through Friday.

"It is impossible to have a perfect text that everybody agreed to," the prime minister said. "... I think there is a majority consensus to move forward with the referendum. In two weeks, we'll find out what Egyptians think of this constitution."

Most of Egypt's judiciary already has made its opinions known on Morsy's recent actions.

All but seven of Egypt's 34 courts and 90% of its prosecutors went on strike last week due to what Judge Mohamed al Zind of the Egyptian Judges Club, a professional organization, called a "vicious ... attack on the judicial authority's independence."

About 1,000 judges from around the country agreed Sunday that they would not supervise a national referendum on the constitution, members of the same club said. The club's unanimous decision means court officials who would normally sort out any irregularities in voting will abstain from the process in protest.

But on Monday, members of the Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council - the nation's highest judicial body - met and agreed to supervise the December 15 referendum, Judge Abdel Rahman Behloul said. This group's members had initially criticized Morsy's edict, but they softened their stance after a meeting with him last week.

"We have been conducting a survey and, despite the position of the Judges Club to boycott the review of the referendum, we have received feedback from many prominent judges who are willing to oversee the vote," Behloul said. An estimated 11,000 judges will be needed to oversee the vote.

Al Zind, from the judges club, said 90% of judges are refusing to participate "but there are also Muslim Brotherhood judges" and others supportive of Morsy's stance. He claimed the Supreme Judicial Council "has no real power, they are heads of courts that deal with administrative matters."

Egypt's high court suspends sessions after protest

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Egypt
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Arbaminch

    Poor dear old Egypt. Once the Islamists get their hands on anything...the inevitable stench of decay and rot pervade the senses.

    I detest the MB and their miserable offshoot, the "Salafist's". I fear that Egypt has been duped into an Islamic uprising by pure deceit & rancor. I detest their ignorant ranting and convoluted hatreds...I detest their backward stand on women and I especially detest their narrow minded and brutal approach to other religions.

    The biggest threat today to civilized society are these fundamentalists.

    Is it any surprise that whenever we hear "Islamists" we conjure up so many negatives and nothing remotely positive. I for one, will never rest in denouncing and fighting off these backward, ignorant and dangerous people.

    Sadly though, it was voter intransigence and the ballot box that voted the MB in. Egyptians have no-one to blame but themselves and they let their revolution be high jacked by people who will, in the final note, be worst than Mubarak a 1,000 x's. Just wait & see.Nothing good ever came from the MB, anywhere, any place,any time.

    December 4, 2012 at 12:30 am | Reply
    • Mo

      Well said

      December 4, 2012 at 4:20 am | Reply
    • Ash

      Agree 100%

      December 4, 2012 at 6:41 am | Reply
    • docmom

      Very true. Who has ears, let them hear! Where is the American government support for Cilvil rights and freedoms. Where is the American media now, when the MB is in the lead. They are cowards, afraid to speak against 'islam'. This will be worse than Iraq, Iran, Pakistan.

      December 4, 2012 at 9:10 am | Reply
      • EternalHigh

        No, one thing for sure, MB and its supporters are no cowards...most of the 7; if not all, killed in these riots (count upto December 06, 2012), belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, and hence not dead, but Martyred!

        December 7, 2012 at 5:21 am |
  2. Khaled

    The biggest threat today is not the fundamentalists but the who claim to be liberal and democratic but refuse the result of clean voting. Why do not the so called "Islamists" get their chance of ruling the country and if they failed, then people can take them off power in the next election ??? It is that simple. Why trying to place obstacle after obstacle in their way of ruling and trying to purposefully fail them ????

    December 4, 2012 at 1:52 am | Reply
    • Parag

      If there is a 'next' election...!
      Was there a next election in Gaza strip once the Hamas ( read MB ) was voted in ?

      December 4, 2012 at 3:41 am | Reply
  3. EternalHigh

    'Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council – the nation's highest judicial body – met and agreed to supervise the December 15 referendum, Judge Abdel Rahman Behloul said. This group's members had initially criticized Morsy's edict, but they softened their stance after a meeting with him last week'...Clear Media Bigotry, this piece of critical news never hit the 'headlines...can't trust them anymore with all their hidden agendas and policies...stinks!

    December 4, 2012 at 2:23 am | Reply
  4. Ramses Ibrahim

    CNN - where are you - you are sensing the news about Egypt .. the revolution is back and not a single word from CNN..

    You have sold your heart to the devil .. where is the truth .. please tell us what is going on .. Mr Obama handed Egypt to the Muslim brother hood and it will become another Iran .. Please step in and stop the blood in the street of Egypt..

    December 4, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • CRBG

      Ramses, I agree with you. I believe CNN's lack of coverage is politically motivated. After all, CNN is left-leaning, supporive of their Democrat president who ironically supports a religious fascistic regime in Egypt via the Muslim Brotherhood. I ask for the 5th time (my previous posts were not included here) where is CNN's coverage of the million-man march against the muslim brotherhood in Egypt?

      December 4, 2012 at 12:08 pm | Reply
  5. Marc

    This regime should be prosecuted, the Muslim brotherhood is a huge group of terrorists worldwide. They will destroy Egypt and then Kill America and Israel that is what they believe. they are the exact copy of Osama Bin Laden will be an Allie today but planing to destroy when he can.

    December 4, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
  6. CRBG

    Dear CNN, where are my posts? Don't you allow any criicism of CNN on your site?

    December 4, 2012 at 12:05 pm | Reply
  7. CRBG

    If CNN needs some help covering the secular protests against the muslim brotherhood in Egypt, here is a link to a youtube video showing the swarms around the presidential palace at the point in time when Morsy decided to escape.

    December 4, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Reply
  8. guy

    Where are you CNN ?

    December 4, 2012 at 3:24 pm | Reply
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