Egypt President Meets Judges, Fails to ‘Contain Crisis’
President Mohamed Morsi suggested Monday that he would scale back broad powers he assumed last week but failed to appease Egypt’s judiciary, which would still lack oversight of some institutions including the Islamist-led assembly drafting a new constitution.
Morsi and senior judges met for nearly five hours to discuss differences resulting from the president’s declaration that his office was free from judicial review. Morsi told judges that the decree was meant to be temporary, and mainly aimed at shielding the long-troubled constitutional assembly from any judicial attempt to disband it.
Presidential spokesman Yasser Ali said after the meeting that Morsi’s decree was not designed to “infringe” on the judiciary, suggesting not all of the president’s actions would be immune from court review. The Supreme Judicial Council on Saturday condemned Morsi’s expanded powers as an “unprecedented attack” on the courts. And Monday’s talks did not seem to soften the sentiment of some council members.
“Our meeting with the president has failed to contain the crisis,” Abdelrahman Bahloul, a member of the judicial council, told the newspaper Al Masry al Youm. “The statement issued by the presidency is frail and does not represent the members of the council.”
The Judges Club, a separate legal organization, also was not satisfied that Morsi had scaled back enough of his authority. It called on its members to continue a partial strike in Alexandria and other cities. Ziad Akl, a political analyst, said Morsi’s negotiations with the judges were a move to show the public he’s not a dictator, “but, in reality, his declaration has not changed.”