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Mursi announces referendum on new constitution on December 15

Sunday December 02, 2012 10:37:37 PM, IINA

Cairo: Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi received a copy of the country's draft constitution Saturday night and announced plans for a December 15 public referendum on the draft. Supporters of Mursi have welcomed his call for the referendum.

A large rally of Islamist supporters at Cairo University cheered the announcement late on Saturday.

 

Opposition figures, however, vowed to fight on against the draft document, which they say undermines basic freedoms.

 

Egypt's highest court is expected to rule later on Sunday on the legitimacy of the assembly that agreed the draft.

 

Mursi called for the vote in a speech before members of the constituent assembly, the 100-member panel that drafted the document.

 

Mursi praised their work, describing it as another step toward "fulfilling the goals" of the revolution that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak last year.

 

Hossam el-Gheryani, the head of the assembly, also spoke.

 

"We added freedoms in the draft that did not exist before," he said. Mursi thanked the nearly two dozen members of the assembly who quit in recent weeks. "Their work can't be ignored," he said.

But many feel it has been: Liberals and representatives of the Coptic Church withdrew from deliberations and accused the panel of pushing an Islamist agenda.

 

His speech follows major protests in Cairo on Saturday, both for and against his presidency.

 

The Muslim Brotherhood organized a major rally outside Cairo University, where protesters carried Egyptian and Saudi flags and posters of Mursi, with banners reading "Together (with Mursi) to save the revolution."

 

Witnesses said hundreds of demonstrators were bussed in from outlying governorates in the Nile Delta region. And a number of Muslim clerics in Friday sermons in the southern city of Assiut called the president's opponents "enemies of God and Islam".

Saturday's demonstrations come a day after protests against the draft turned violent in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

 

The demonstrators chanted "freedom, down with the constitutional establishment", as riot police charged along the city's streets and crowds of protesters surrounded police vehicles.

 

The protests were sparked by the president's decrees a week ago granting himself wide-ranging power to issue decrees which would not be subject to judicial review.

 

In an interview with state television aired on Thursday night, Mursi said it was necessary to speed up passage of the constitution in order to end Egypt's transitional period.

 

He also promised that his new found legislative powers would end after the referendum.

 

The elected parliament was dissolved by court order earlier this year; new parliamentary elections will be held once the constitution is approved.

 

"This constitutional declaration is temporary, and it will end once the people have approved the constitution," Mursi said.

 

 

 

 


 

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