Mohamed Morsi this week won lavish praise from Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for his role in bringing an end to eight days of fighting between Israel and Gaza. Photograph: Maya Alleruzzo/AP
Mohamed Morsi also decrees immunity from dissolution for panel drafting new constitution and orders retrial of Mubarak-era leaders
BY: Associated Press in Cairo for the guardian.co.uk,
Egypt‘s president, Mohamed Morsi, has issued constitutional amendments granting himself far-reaching powers and ordered the retrial of leaders of Hosni Mubarak’s regime for the killing of protesters in last year’s uprising.
Morsi decreed immunity for the panel drafting a new constitution from any possible court decisions to dissolve it. He has also granted the same protection to the upper chamber of parliament. Both bodies are dominated by Morsi’s Islamist allies.
Several courts are looking into cases demanding the dissolution of both bodies. Parliament’s lower chamber, also dominated by Islamists, was dissolved in June by a court decision on the grounds that the rules governing its election were illegal.
Morsi also decreed that all the decisions he has made since taking office in June and until a new constitution is adopted are not subject to appeal in court or by any other authority, a move that places Morsi above oversight of any kind. He already has legislative powers after the lower chamber was dissolved days before he took office on 30 June.
The decree for retrials appeared aimed at launching a new prosecution of Mubarak. It said those who held “political or executive” positions in the former regime would be affected. Mubarak was convicted in June to life in prison for failing to stop the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising against his rule. However, many Egyptians were angered that he wasn’t convicted of actually ordering the crackdown and that his security chief, Habib el-Adly, was not sentenced to death. Several top police commanders were acquitted, and Mubarak and his sons were found not guilty of corruption charges.
Morsi’s decrees came as thousands of demonstrators gathered in downtown Cairo for a fourth consecutive day to protest against his policies and criticise the Muslim Brotherhood. They come one day after he won lavish praise from US president Barack Obama and secretary of state Hillary Clinton for mediating an end to eight days of fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers, whose parent group is the Brotherhood.
Morsi also fired the country’s top prosecutor by decreeing with immediate effect that he could only stay in office for four years. Abdel-Maguid Mahmoud has been in the job for close to a decade. Morsi sacked Mahmoud for the first time in October, but had to rescind his decision when he found that he lacked the powers to do so.
Mahmoud, a Mubarak-era appointee, has faced widespread accusations that his office did a shoddy job collecting evidence against dozens of police officers who were tried and acquitted on charges of killing protesters during the uprising.