In a move that may herald a return to authoritarianism, President Mohamed Morsi of Egyptdecreed new powers for himself on Thursday that puts his decision-making out of the reach of the government’s high court.
Morsi, who has been in office less than five months, proclaimed that the Supreme Constitutional Court could no longer challenge his rulings, and ordered retrials of several top former officials, including ex-president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled as Egypt’s dictator for more than three decades.
The decree shocked many Egyptians, especially those who had hoped the fall of Mubarak would lead to democratic rule.
“Morsi today usurped all state powers & appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh,” wrote former liberal presidential candidate Mohamed ElBaradei on Twitter. ElBaradei added that the decree could prove to be “a major blow to the revolution” and “have dire consequences” for the nation.
Amr Hamzawy, a liberal member of the Parliament, which the high court dissolved before Morsi took office, wrote in an online commentary that the move amounted to “an absolute presidential tyranny.”
The Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, endorsed the decree and said it was necessary to preserve the country’s return to democracy.
Opposition leaders called for mass demonstrations to challenge Morsi’s action and thwart any attempt by him to become Egypt’s next dictator.
To Learn More:
Egypt’s President Morsi Takes Sweeping New Powers (by Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post)
Citing Deadlock, Egypt’s Leader Seizes New Power and Plans Mubarak Retrial (by David D. Kirkpatrick and Mayy El Sheikh, New York Times)
Egypt Fury Over Mohammed Mursi 'Coup Against Legitimacy' (BBC News)
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