Egypt crisis: Morsi offers concession in decree annulment


The BBC's Shaimaa Khalil: "This is a major sign of compromise on the president's part"

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has offered a concession to opponents by annulling a decree that hugely expanded his powers and sparked angry protests.

But a controversial referendum on a draft constitution planned for 15 December will still go ahead.

Halting the referendum is a key demand of the opposition and some have already dismissed Mr Morsi's latest move.

The president's critics accuse him of acting like a dictator, but he says he is safeguarding the revolution.

Ahmed Said, head of the Free Egyptians Party, a leading member of the main opposition National Salvation Front coalition, said Mr Morsi's latest announcement was "shocking" as it did not halt the referendum.

The National Salvation Front will meet on Sunday before issuing a formal response.

'Duping the people'

Mr Morsi's decree of 22 November stripped the judiciary of any right to challenge his decisions and triggered violent protests on the streets of Cairo.

"The constitutional decree is annulled from this moment," said Selim al-Awa, an Islamist politician acting as a spokesman for a meeting Mr Morsi held with political and public figures on Saturday.


This is a major sign of compromise on the president's part and also an unexpected move.

In his speech last Thursday President Morsi showed no willingness to give up the absolute powers he granted himself and which gained him titles like "dictator" and "Pharaoh".

But in a dramatic U-turn he has decided to give those powers up. This is good news for Egypt's judiciary, which felt particularly insulted by the president's decree because it basically deemed them powerless.

As for the opposition, it seems they've only won half the battle. The president did not budge on the other sticking point: the referendum on the controversial draft constitution. Vice-President Mahmoud Mekki said that a vote on the charter would go ahead as planned in a week's time.

He said if the draft constitution was rejected by a popular vote then elections would be held for a new constituent assembly.

The reaction of the main opposition National Salvation Front will now be key to how events shape politically. Since the announcement of the decree Egypt has been deeply polarised and has plunged into a new wave of violence. It remains to be seen whether this annulment will defuse tension on Egypt's volatile streets.

But he said the referendum on a new constitution would go ahead because it was not legally possible for the president to postpone it.

The meeting had been boycotted by the main opposition leaders who had earlier called for their supporters to step up their protests.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says Mr Morsi's move is the first big sign of compromise but that it is unlikely to end the current crisis.

Our correspondent says the tanks, barbed wire and concrete blocks around the presidential palace show what great pressure Mr Morsi is under.

Ahmed Said told Reuters news agency that Mr Morsi's latest move would "make things a lot worse".

"I cannot imagine that after all this they want to pass a constitution that does not represent all Egyptians," he said.

Another opposition group, the April 6 Youth Movement, said the announcement was "a political manoeuvre aimed at duping the people".

Some opposition protesters on the streets were also unimpressed by the decree annulment.

One, Amr al-Libiy, told Reuters: "He didn't change his decision or the constitutional decree until people were killed... so we will not leave until he leaves."

However, another told Associated Press he hoped the move would "end the bloodshed", saying: "We called for something and now it's been achieved."

Pro-Morsi protesters have also continued to demonstrate - angry at what they say is media bias against the president.

Set on fire

Although the decree has been annulled, some decisions taken under it still stand.

The general prosecutor, who was dismissed, will not be reinstated, and the retrial of the former regime officials will go ahead.

Earlier, Egypt's powerful military warned it would not allow Egypt to spiral out of control and called for talks to resolve the conflict.

"Anything other than that (dialogue) will force us into a dark tunnel with disastrous consequences; something that we won't allow," it said.

The president's supporters say the judiciary is made up of reactionary figures from the old regime of strongman Hosni Mubarak.

But his opponents have mounted almost continuous protests since the decree was passed.

They are also furious over the drafting of the new constitution because they see the process as being dominated by Mr Morsi's Islamist allies.

Several people have been killed in the recent spate of anti-government protests, and the presidential palace has come under attack.

The Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement to which Mr Morsi belongs, were set on fire.


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Egypt transition


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  • rate this

    Comment number 169.


    All the warning signs were there that once Mubarak had fallen he would be replaced by an Islamist group and so it has.

    Jimmy Carter (D), who destroyed CIA's HUMINT and betrayed our staunch ally Shah Reza Pahlavi is directly responsible for pro-Western Persia becoming a fanatical Islamist, Sharia-based caliphate.

    Fighting (offficially) for a similar GLOBAL caliphate.

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    Now they can seek a legal injunction against the referendum, if Mursi's decree cannot now override the justices.

    Is it worth a try? Or does no-one trust the Egyptian courts yet? Or is that not possible under Egypt's law?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    The Arab Spring will not bring peace and enlightenment. The populations are largely poor, uneducated and full of political / religious factions. That's a recipe for civil war, brutality, kidnappings, torture, rape and property theft. It's an enormous breeding ground for waves of new terrorists to be coming our way soon. The war between "Islam and Christianity" will soon return with a vengeance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    here is my tip to Egyptians regarding political parties - if the party is associated with any of the following words, avoid it like the plague: "Islam, Muslim, Sharia, Hamas". By all means pursue your interest and beliefs but leave them out of politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    Sometimes I'm disgusted by our (Western) leaders. Egyptian moderates, Christians and women are fighting -- and dying -- for their rights, and nary a peep out of the West.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    @ 103.All for All

    "Extremes beget extremes: "Capitalist Hegemony..."
    -Capitalism is not hegemony. It is freedom. Crony capitalism, which is corporatism and a perversion of the market begets vested interests & monopolies.

    "Equal Partnership"
    What do you mean?

    * I hope we've learned our lesson & will stop meddling in foreign sovereign nations' domestic affairs. For their & our sakes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.


    "Leave them to sort it out themselves."

    That's a very sensible approach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 162.

    Last year I met a 40 year old Egyptian lady engineer at a conference. She beamed as she described the overthrow of Mubarak, her time in the tear gas at Tahrir Square and so full of pride that her eldest son fought with the thugs trying to suppress the people's cause and was shot but survived. She was devout muslim but believed in the freedoms we have in the West. She must be horrified now....

  • rate this

    Comment number 161.

    "not allowed"

    For all, "Where to draw line?"

    As @154, safest by "enduring equivalence of freedom to shape the law"

    'Fundamental moral reason' legislating against corruption of childhood, or pollution of adult discourse, by pointless immoral 'arguments' against 'democracy' as such

    We can 'survive' each other's beliefs & tastes

    Majorities to be won on issues of conduct

    Have faith?

  • rate this

    Comment number 160.


    111.powermeerkat - "......hailing back to Dark Ages in which militant Islam destroyed many ancient cultures...."

    Do you work hard at grossly misrepresenting history or does it come naturally to you?

    Yes, old one. Comes naturally to someone who knows what Egyptian, Hittite, Seljuk, Persian, etc., cultures were like BEFORE Islamist invasion. Capisce?

  • rate this

    Comment number 159.


    "...they're all as bad as each other..."


    No they are not. Many Egyptians are enlightened, intelligent, tolerant, fair-minded and peaceful people.

    That is why this is a tragedy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 158.

    they're all as bad as each other. Shut the borders and let them slaughter each other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 157.

    If President Morsi's authority is now not above the law, what is to stop the protester's from seeking a legal injunction for the referendum from the now re-empowered courts?

  • rate this

    Comment number 156.

    Hopefully the events of the last couple of weeks will have demonstrated to the great many Egyptians who were instrumental in the deposing of Hosni Mubarak, particularly the youth, that Islam and Western-style democracy are not compatible and never will be as long as Islam remains unreformed. Nevertheless I take heart from the reaction against Morsi's attempt to set himself up as a new dictator.

  • rate this

    Comment number 155.


    "slightly more modest for of democracy"?

    When one quotes another, one does not place one’s own inventions in quotation marks as if it by the other. Consider doing so in the future.

    “it can't be called democracy.”

    Of course it can. Democracy is not defined by the number of Christian churches not burned down, but whether the people are permitted to elect their rulers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 154.

    fm @125
    "westerners can't have it both ways"

    No-one can, not 'before God', or in rational humanity

    No creed or religion, can ask/claim allegiance as 'For Good', if tied to injustice or tyranny

    Essence of democracy is enduring equivalence of freedom to shape law. Then laws of 'taste', religious/other, agreed 'democratic', observed even if still campaigned against. Protested in unusual extremity

  • rate this

    Comment number 153.

    Who cares? Its just another Middle East basket case country. Leave them to sort it out themselves.

    Please, remind us what Egyptian/Jewish/Persian,/Mongolian/Turkic civilzations were like before militant Muslims moved on them agressively as of 7th century?

    And on Caucasus. [Russia's big problem]

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    P.S. have I mentioned Southern SPAIN????

  • Comment number 152.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    The problem is that for any thinking person the Morsi decree rendered the whole original revolution null and void in a single swoop. Whatever his intentions, at worst he is saying he wants to become a replacement dictator, or at best he's saying the country cannot be controlled by democratic means for historical reasons. There is now no way back for Morsi, either he seizes power, or he goes :-(

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    to Justice @109
    " Under the Sharia Law everyone's right is preserved."

    according to the quran believers cannot side with non believers against believers,non believers cannot learn crafts or hold official office,they will be tolerated as you would a child.
    Islam is only interested in it's subservient followers and looks to rid the world of other beliefs..
    Joe Stalin had similar views,


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