Egypt's judges call for strike over Morsi's sweeping powers
Egyptian judges called Saturday for suspension of work in courts and for prosecutors nationwide to protest President Mohammed Morsi's decree granting himself sweeping new powers, DPA reported.
Ending an emergency meeting in Cairo, the Judges' Club, an independent judicial union, called for the strike to begin Sunday and demanded Morsi reverse a decision that replaced Egypt's top prosecutor, who was appointed under ousted president Hosny Mubarak.
Morsi signed a constitutional declaration Thursday barring courts from dissolving the Islamist-controlled assembly drafting a new constitution. He made his decisions and laws immune to judicial review.
"In case these demands are not met, the judges will not participate in supervising any elections," the union said in a statement, quoted by the state-owned newspaper al-Ahram online.
Earlier Saturday, the Supreme Judicial Council, Egypt's highest judicial institution, called Morsi's decree an "unprecedented attack" on the judiciary.
"The new declaration is an unprecedented attack on the judiciary's rulings and independence," the council said in a statement after an emergency meeting, calling on Morsi to avoid steps that undermine the judicial system.
Supporters and opponents of the Islamist president clashed during rival protests held Friday across Egypt, exposing deep divisions almost two years after the uprising that forced Mubarak to step down.
Offices of Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) were set on fire in several cities. FJP is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the largest and most organized Islamist group, which was banned under Mubarak.
Rival protesters clashed Saturday outside the Supreme Court in Cairo, where judges were gathering to discuss the presidential decree.
Security forces fired tear gas to disperse the protesters and foiled an attempt by Morsi backers to disrupt the meeting, local media reported.
Secularists and leftists say Morsi's decree undermines democracy and cements the Brotherhood's grip on power. Morsi has advocated his actions as necessary to protect the anti-Mubarak revolution.
Morsi a re-trial of former officials suspected of involvement in deadly violence against protesters during the 2011 popular revolt.
Opposition leaders, including Nobel laureate Mohammed ElBaradei, launched a "national salvation front" to push for a reversal of Morsi's sweeping powers.
The opposition has called for protests Tuesday, when the Muslim Brotherhood plans a mass rally to support Morsi, who became Egypt's first elected civilian president in June.