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Published: Monday, 12/10/2012

Egypt’s Morsi grants military greater power

Leader insists he won’t delay referendum

NEW YORK TIMES
Egyptian protesters push against soldiers in front of the presidential palace in Cairo. Egypt’s liberal opposition called for more protests on Tuesday. Egyptian protesters push against soldiers in front of the presidential palace in Cairo. Egypt’s liberal opposition called for more protests on Tuesday.
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CAIRO — Protesters marched on the presidential palace in Cairo on Sunday, registering fresh anger against Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s plan to go ahead with a referendum on an Islamist-backed draft constitution.

Mr. Morsi issued an order on Sunday placing security over government institutions in the hands of the military until after the results of Saturday’s referendum, the Associated Press reported.

The order, which will take effect today, also grants soldiers the right to arrest civilians.

In a concession to his opponents, Mr. Morsi on Saturday rescinded most of a sweeping Nov. 22 decree that temporarily elevated his decisions above judicial review and that had prompted tens of thousands to protest and call for his ouster.

He also offered a convoluted arrangement for the factions to negotiate constitutional amendments this week that would be added to the charter after the vote.

But he did not budge on a key demand: that he delay the referendum set for Saturday to allow an overhaul of the proposed charter, which liberal groups say has inadequate protection of individual rights and provisions that could give Muslim religious authorities new influence.

His decision to deploy the military has been interpreted by some as imposing martial law.

Some opposition leaders vowed to continue to derail the referendum. The National Salvation Front announced that it would meet to decide on a course of action, the Associated Press reported.

“We are against this process from start to finish,” said Hussein Abdel Ghani, a group spokesman, according to Reuters. He called for more street protests on Tuesday.

“We have broken the barrier of fear: A constitution that aborts our rights and freedoms is one that we will bring down today before tomorrow,” Mohamed ElBaradei, the former diplomat now acting as coordinator of the secular opposition, wrote on Twitter early Sunday. “Our power is in our will.”

In recent days, protesters have attacked more than two dozen Muslim Brotherhood offices and ransacked the group’s headquarters, and at least seven people have died in street fighting between Islamists and their opponents.

 



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