Morsi sticking to his guns on decree: presidential spokesman

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is standing by a controversial decree granting him wide-ranging legislative power, a presidential spokesman says.

There is “no change to the constitutional declaration,” presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters on Monday, after a meeting between Morsi and the country’s top judges held to resolve a five-day crisis that has plunged the country into turmoil, with clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents that have left one protester dead and many injured.

However, Ali noted that Morsi reassured the judges that the scope of the decree would be restricted to “sovereign matters” designed to protect institutions.

“The president and the Supreme Judicial Council confirmed their desire for no conflict or difference between the judicial and presidential authorities,” he added.

Last Thursday, Morsi issued a constitutional declaration that sweepingly expanded the Egyptian president’s powers. The decree opens the way for the retrials of officials involved in the clampdown on the massive demonstrations that toppled dictator Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.

The decree also bars courts from challenging Morsi’s decisions and allows the president to take “any decision or measure to protect the revolution,” an initiative interpreted by some political analysts as a mechanism to consolidate his influence.

Egyptian protesters have been camping at Cairo’s Tahrir Square since the declaration was made to voice their opposition to the decree and demand its repeal.

On Sunday, a 15-year-old Muslim Brotherhood member was killed and 60 other people were injured in an attack on the party’s headquarters in the town of Damanhour.

Some Egyptians say Morsi has hijacked the revolution and has been unable to achieve its goals. Others say he has not lived up to his commitments and has divided the nation.

Morsi’ supporters and opponents are planning to stage massive demonstrations on Tuesday.

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