Protesters marking two years since Hosni Mubarak’s fall have been sprayed by water cannon and tear gas outside the presidential palace.
Demonstrations were also expressing their anger at Mubarak’s elected successor, Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Middle East Online reported.
The crowd at the palace was described by the Associated Press as small, however some protesters tried to cross a barbed wire barrier at the Ettihadiya palace gate.
Others chanted: “The people want to bring down the regime.” Others threw stones.
They had also graffitied the palace walls “Erhal” or “Leave,” the same chant heard in Tahrir Square during the uprising that led to Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11, 2011.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi rebuilt his cabinet Sunday, replacing 10 ministers and amplifying the Islamist presence in the government. The move, in which at least three Islamists were appointed to head major economic ministries, comes a day ahead of a planned visit by the International Monetary Fund to discuss an impending $4.8 billion loan.
The shake-up also marked the latest in a series of appointments and forced resignations that have rattled Egypt’s government in the two years of political turmoil since a popular uprising ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. Morsi, as well as the transitional leaders who ruled before his June election, have used past cabinet shuffles as a means to assuage popular frustration over the slow pace of economic and political reforms.
A study finds that 82 percent of women say they will curb work hours because they fear for their safety while commuting.
Islamist political parties gave their support to the changes, but some opposition members criticized the move, saying it served only to further consolidate Islamist control of Egypt’s top government positions weeks after a conflict over the religious character of Egypt’s new constitution left the country bitterly divided.
Egyptian voters just approved a new constitution in a popular referendum, so it’s safe to say at this point that the country has undergone a regime change. The military government installed by Gamal Abdel Nasser’s “Free Officers Movement” in 1952, which continued in a crippled form for a while after Hosni Mubarak was removed from power, is now finished.
The new constitution was translated into English and published on the Internet. It’s a mixed bag. Some of it is pretty good. Parts are incoherent and far too vague for a legal document. Other sections are toxic, especially Article 2 which says—and all of us knew this was coming—that “Principles of Islamic Sharia are the principal source of legislation.” [Emphasis added.]
The referendum passed by a roughly 2-1 margin, which is more or less the same percentage of people who voted for either the Muslim Brotherhood or the totalitarian Salafists in the last parliamentary election.
ABC News reports that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi “called on the opposition to join a dialogue to heal rifts over the charter.”
There shouldn’t be any serious rifts. Not over a new constitution. It ought to be a consensus document, something liberals and conservatives, Muslims and Christians, and the secular and the religious can all live with.
As the head of Egypt’s government while angry, violent protests consume the capital city, President Mohamed Morsi finds himself all alone.
Egypt’s revolution is being torn asunder, so angry are urban, secular Egyptians about Morsi’s bald power-grab—and the draft constitution he is trying to foist on the nation. Street fighting between thousands of urban Egyptians who oppose him and Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood brethren killed at least six and wounded nearly 500 others.
Morsi is desperate. On Sunday he annulled most of the decree that had granted him near-dictatorial powers. But he’s still been talking about imposing marital law, at least until the draft constitution his Islamist allies in Parliament quickly threw together is put up for a vote later this month.
The problem is, he’s the head of a government staffed by people who worked for former president Hosni Mubarak most of their lives. For all that time, the Muslim Brotherhood was the enemy.
Now, Morsi doesn’t trust the Interior Ministry—the home agency for police and other security services—to stand with him. Morsi dismissed the Army’s commanding generals earlier this year, trying to show them who’s boss. For decades, one of the Army’s key missions had been to protect the nation against the Muslim Brotherhood.
From the moment when Hosni Mubarak fell from power in February 2011, few issues have proved more divisive in Egyptian politics than the writing of a new constitution. Now, even though the formal process is theoretically coming to an end, the battle over the constitution is drawing the country dangerously close to an all-out civil war. The constituent assembly, Egypt’s constitutional committee, has approved a draft of the document, which will be submitted to a popular referendum, and probably approved, on December 15. Secular forces, however, oppose the constitution — its passage would mark a return to politics as usual in which Islamist parties have the upper hand, liberals remain on the fringes, and authoritarianism could reemerge, this time under the auspices of the Muslim Brotherhood.
To prevent the approval of the constitution, secularists have taken to the streets in increasingly large demonstrations, denouncing the constitution and President Mohamed Morsi as illegitimate and threatening massive civil disobedience. If Islamist parties mobilized their followers in response, something they have so far refrained from doing on a large scale, violence would be inevitable. A major flare-up could split the security forces and confront the military with a dilemma: either seize power again, as it did after the overthrow of Mubarak, or sit on the sidelines as the country descends into chaos. Neither option is palatable for the generals, since picking a side and intervening in political squabbles could cause a deep rift within the military itself.
Secularists allege that the Islamists who dominated the constituent assembly pushed through a constitution that does not respect liberal values. Their fears were only further stoked by Morsi’s decree that put his edicts above the reach of the courts. In their thinking, only popular protests could save the country from a return to Mubarakism. The Islamists, meanwhile, see themselves as the guardians of the democratic transition. From their point of view, the secularists are mobilizing the institutions of the Mubarak state, particularly the courts, in an attempt to undo the results of democratic elections that the Islamists won. According to this narrative, secularists used politicized courts to engineer the dissolution of the parliament and the first constituent assembly. Morsi, then, was quite justified in trying to protect the second constituent assembly by placing it out of reach of the judiciary.
Resignations rocked the government of President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday as tanks from the special presidential guard took up positions around his palace and the state television headquarters after a night of street fighting between his Islamist supporters and their secular opponents that left at least 6 dead and 450 wounded.
The director of state broadcasting resigned Thursday, as did Rafik Habib, a Christian who was the vice president of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party and the party’s favorite example of its commitment to tolerance and pluralism. Their departures followed an announcement by Zaghoul el-Balshi, the new general secretary of the commission overseeing a planned constitutional referendum, that he was quitting. “I will not participate in a referendum that spilled Egyptian blood,” he said in a television interview during the clashes late Wednesday night.
With the resignations on Thursday, nine Morsi administration officials have quit in protest in recent days.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, protected in his palace by tanks and troops, stood by a controversial decree that expanded his powers and warned Thursday that he would not tolerate efforts to overthrow his government, which was rocked by violent clashes overnight between his supporters and opponents.
In a televised speech, Morsi also sought to tamp down opposition to last month’s decree, calling for “comprehensive and productive” dialogue with opponents and insisting that he is not shielding his decisions from judicial review, news agencies reported.
Morsi delivered the speech Thursday night after the Egyptian military’s elite Republican Guard deployed tanks and barbed-wire barricades around his presidential palace to restore order and discourage further clashes.
Thousands of Morsi supporters from the powerful Muslim Brotherhood organization heeded the Guard’s mid-afternoon deadline to withdraw from the area, but scores of opponents — kept at a distance by the barricades — continued to demonstrate across the street from the palace, chanting slogans against the Islamist president.
The clashes, in which Egypt’s divided and angry revolutionaries battled each other with rocks, molotov cocktails, sticks and clubs, left the capital on edge and raised concerns about the stability of the country’s first democratically elected government and its relationship with the military.
President Mohamed Morsi speaks darkly of imminent threats from a conspiracy of unnamed foreign enemies and corrupt businessmen. He vows to uncover counterrevolutionaries hiding under judicial robes. His advisers charge that loyalists of the former dictator have infiltrated the opposition, saying it would gladly sacrifice democracy to defeat the Islamists.
In a one-week blitz, Mr. Morsi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood cast aside two years of cautious pragmatism in an effort to seize full control of Egypt’s political transition. Mr. Morsi decreed himself above the reach of the courts until completion of a new constitution. He went around the laws to install his own public prosecutor in a stated drive to go after those who abused power or reaped profits under the old government. And his Islamist allies in the constitutional assembly rammed through a charter over the objections of their secular opposition and the Coptic Christian Church.
As hundreds of thousands of their supporters rallied on Saturday in Cairo, this flash of authoritarianism in Egypt’s Islamist leaders has aroused a new debate here about their stated commitment to democracy and pluralism at a time when they dominate political life.
Mr. Morsi’s advisers call the tactics a regrettable but necessary response to genuine threats to the political transition from what they call the deep state — the vestiges of the autocracy of former President Hosni Mubarak, especially in the news media and the judiciary. On Saturday, Mr. Morsi pushed ahead with the new constitution, calling a referendum for Dec. 15.
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.”
With the new “constitutional declaration” issued on November 22, President Mohamed Morsi completed his takeover of Egypt. He now holds all executive, legislative and judicial powers; furthermore he denies anyone the right to cancel the laws and decrees he issued since he took office on June 30.
Former Egyptian presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Hosni Mubarak, who ruled with an iron hand, never went that far. To all intents and purposes Morsi has become a dictator whose prerogatives are only rivaled by those of the president of North Korea. This has been achieved through what is nothing less than a putsch against the constitutional legitimacy of the country. It is so patently illegal that a leader attempting it anywhere else would be thrown out of office, but Morsi was nothing but thorough.