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MIDEAST > Egyptians flock to streets as panel OKs draft charter

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Egyptians perform the Friday prayer in Cairo’s Tahrir square as they stage a sit-in protest against Morsi’s decree. AFP photo

Egyptians perform the Friday prayer in Cairo’s Tahrir square as they stage a sit-in protest against Morsi’s decree. AFP photo

Thousands of Egyptians protested against President Mohamed Morsi on Nov. 30 after an Islamist-led assembly raced through approval of a new Constitution in a bid to end a crisis over president’s newly expanded powers.

“The people want to bring down the regime,” they chanted in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, echoing the chants that rang out in the same place less than two years ago and brought down Hosni Mubarak.

In the Cairo mosque where Morsi said Friday prayers, some opponents chanted against him but backers quickly surrounded him shouting in support. Morsi said the decree halting court challenges to his decisions, which sparked eight days of protests and violence by Egyptians calling him a new dictator, was “for an exceptional stage” and aimed to speed up the democratic transition.

“It will end as soon as the people vote on a constitution. There is no place for dictatorship,” he told state television while the constituent assembly was still voting on the draft.

UN urges Morsi on decree


The Chairman of the Constituent Assembly Hossam el-Ghiriani said the draft law would be sent to Morsi and a referendum would be held within two weeks. Thousands also took to the streets in Alexandria and cities on the Suez Canal and in the Nile Delta, responding to opposition calls for a big turnout.
Protesters said they would push for a “no” vote in a referendum. Setting the stage for more tension, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies have called for pro-Morsi rallies on Dec. 1. But officials from the Brotherhood’s party changed the venue avoiding Tahrir Square.

Meanwhile, U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay has urged Morsi to reconsider the decree, stressing that a number of measures laid out in his declaration last week “are incompatible with international human rights law.”

Pillay also voiced concern over the process by which the Constitution was being formed.

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

December/01/2012

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