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Egyptian president says decree granting him sweeping powers is only 'temporary'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi will meet senior judges following his move last week to assume sweeping powers. The presidential office has since described the new powers as "temporary." The attendant riots and demonstrations over the decision in Egypt have since been likened to the ones against former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled from power during the Arab spring.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Morsi issued a decree last week temporarily widening his powers and shielding his decisions from judicial review. The action has led to others decreeing Morsi as little more than a new dictator.

More than 500 people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters. There are growing fears that Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party aims to dominate the post-Hosni Mubarak era after winning Egypt's first democratic parliamentary and presidential elections this year.

Morsi's opponents say they want nothing less than the complete cancellation of a decree they see as a danger to democracy, while Morsi's camp has hinted at possible compromise.

The Supreme Judicial Council has declared that the decree should apply only to "sovereign matters," suggesting it did not reject the declaration outright. The council called upon judges and prosecutors, some of whom began a strike this weekend, to return to work.

Morsi's office has repeated assurances that the measures would be temporary. The Morsi camps says that they wish dialogue with political groups to find "common ground" over what should go in Egypt's constitution, one of the issues at the heart of the crisis.

"Some analysts believe they are not actually backpedalling; it's all part of their political strategy, they're just being very patient and they're still slowly expanding their powers through these different phases of negotiations," FRANCE 24's correspondent in Egypt, Alex Turnbull said.

The west may be able to apply pressure to the Morsi government. Washington still maintains leverage due to billions of dollars it sends in annual military aid.

"The United States should be saying this is unacceptable," former presidential nominee John McCain, leading Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Fox News.

"We thank Mr. Morsi for his efforts in brokering the ceasefire with Hamas...But this is not what the United States of America's taxpayers expect. Our dollars will be directly related to progress toward democracy."

Some Egyptians maintain cautious optimism that things will work out for the better. "One must withstand the situation for a little while to allow a good man to cleanse the country and fix it," one day laborer has quoted as saying.
 
Yet another Egyptian says that life has become harder since Morsi came to power. "For poor people like us, it has gotten worse; it has become more expensive, there is no work, you just can't live," she told journalists. In regards to the promises of the Arab spring, she said "I was with the revolution; my brother was shot in that time."

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