Egypt judges condemn ‘unprecedented attack’ by Mursi
Egypt’s top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an “unprecedented attack” on the judiciary. The president passed a decree earlier this week granting himself extensive new powers. It includes a bar on any court dissolving the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution.
Outside a Cairo court where judges were meeting, police fired tear gas to disperse crowds. They have been charging with batons at protesters against the decree, reports the BBC’s Jon Leyne from the scene, while pro-Mursi demonstrators tried to disrupt the judges’ meeting. Thursday’s decree sparked angry demonstrations, and attacks on offices of Mr Mursi’s Islamist FJP party. The president has said he is acting to protect the revolution.
In a statement, the Supreme Judicial Council called his move “an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings”, and called on him to reverse it. Judges and prosecutors in Egypt’s second city Alexandria have gone on strike in protest, saying they will not return to work until the decree is reversed. The response of the judges has been tough, if fairly predictable, says our Cairo correspondent. One judge told the BBC their concerns were for Egypt, not their jobs. “We can’t work like this, we have to change it and we will change it,” Ahmed Shannan said. There had been reports that the council was about to disband the constituent assembly for a second time, he added, a move that could seriously derail the transition to democracy and further delay new parliamentary elections. This, in turn, could deter Egypt’s political leaders from taking tough decisions while they wait for the vote. Meanwhile, Egyptian human rights agencies filed a lawsuit at the Court of Administrative Justice calling for the decree to be annulled, Mena news agency reported.