Egypt's president Morsi gives himself broad powers in new decree


A new decree by Egypt's president, Mohammed Morsi, has observers worried he may become the new "Pharaoh," setting back democratic gains.


Stephen Chernin

Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi issued a presidential decree Thursday banning any challenges to his past and future decrees.

Morsi's announcement, less than 24 hours after negotiating a successful cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, has observers worried that he is usurping democratic gains won during the revolution.

The decree gives the president sweeping powers, including giving decisions he makes before the constitution is signed immunity from courts.

BBC said the new law also deems that Egyptian courts cannot dissolve parliament, which is currently conducting the contentious battle over the country's constitution.

Parliament, dominated by Islamists, is drawing up a document that many liberal Egyptians worry will take away basic freedoms, reported GlobalPost.

Government officials say that the move is an attempt to continue destroying the infrastructure of the old regime.

More from GlobalPostEgypt constitution: The good, the bad and the ugly

Yet, many think it is a power grab by the Muslim Brotherhood after international praise for the Israel-Hamas truce negotiations.

Former presidential contender Mohamed El-Baradei tweeted after the announcement that this would be a setback for Egyptian democracy.

"Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh," El-Baradei wrote on Twitter, reported the Guardian.

"A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences."

In another controversial move, Morsi fired Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, the general prosecutor, and ordered a retrial of those government officials responsible for the deaths of protesters during last year's uprising, said the Guardian.

Morsi had tried to sack Mahmoud before to appease protesters but with little success.

“The decision has been made to re-conduct the investigations and retry those implicated in committing crimes against the revolution: injuring and killing demonstrators in connivance with those that occupied political and executive posts during the previous regime,” said a spokesman for the president, Yasser Ali, in a television announcement Thursday, according to Ria Novosti.

Thousands of protesters continue to pour into Cairo's streets demanding reform and prosecution of officials who were found not guilty during the previous trial.