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Egypt judiciary crisis: Morsi hints at compromise

image captionMr Morsi has been in conflict with the judiciary since taking power last June

The office of Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi has suggested a compromise may have been reached to end a crisis over the judiciary.

After talks with top judges on Sunday, the presidency said a conference would be called this week to air the issues and Mr Morsi would accept its rulings.

A plan to lower the retirement age for judges had threatened thousands of posts, angering the judiciary.

Mr Morsi has been in conflict with the judiciary since taking power last June.

Allies in his Muslim Brotherhood say the courts are filled with loyalists of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

Opponents say he is trying to fill posts with his own supporters.

Protest cancelled

The row worsened last week when parliament pressed forward with a bill to lower the retirement age for judges from 70 to 60, affecting about 25% of Egypt's 13,000 judges and prosecutors.

The bill would also have barred judicial review of controversial presidential decrees issued last year.

Protests against the bill had been planned for Monday but they have now been called off.

Mr Morsi met five top judges for about three hours on Sunday, after which a presidential spokesman said the conference would start preparatory sessions on Tuesday.

He said the president would "personally adopt all the conclusions of this conference in draft laws and present them to the legislative council".

The statement was echoed by a similar one from Mohamed Mumtaz, the president of the Supreme Judicial Council.

The controversial bill would be frozen while the conference met, and a new draft would then be presented, a judicial source said.

On 21 April, Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky, who was seen as a supporter of judges' independence, resigned after thousands of pro-Morsi supporters had demonstrated demanding a cleansing of the judiciary.