Mursi grants himself sweeping powers

Opposition leaders in Egypt are calling for mass protests across Egypt on 23 November over the decree issued by President Mursi that gives him sweeping powers and makes it difficult for him to be removed from office, a measure his opponents describe as a "coup against legitimacy".

The decree forbids challenges to Mursi's decisions – including all laws and decrees he made since taking office in late June – by any authority, including the judiciary. The courts are also banned from dissolving the upper house of parliament or the 100-member constituent assembly (known as the Shura Council) which is currently in the process of drawing up a new constitution. As part of the new order the timeline for drafting the constitution – a crucial element to Egypt's transition to democracy – has been extended by two months.

Mursi's supporters say the decree is designed to protect Egypt's revolution. However the move has been condemned by many as reminiscent of the regime of Mursi's predecessor Hosni Mubarak who was ousted in a popular uprising in February 2011.

Central to Mursi's decree is the re-opening of all investigations into the killing of protesters or the use of violence against them during the Mubarak regime, and the re-holding of trials of those accused.

Mursi has also sacked the Mubarak-era chief prosecutor Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, who has been resisting calls to resign for several weeks on the grounds that according to present Egyptian law a judge can not be removed from office by the head of the executive. Mursi supporters have wanted him removed from office for showing what they call “weakness” in producing evidence against officials of the Mubarak regime. The new chief prosecutor Talat Abdullah has been sworn in to serve a fixed term of four years.

The issuing of the decree comes in the aftermath of widespread praise for Mursi's involvement in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement.

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