Egypt's Morsi calls referendum on new constitution
Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said on Saturday that a referendum on a new constitution drafted by an Islamist-led constituent assembly would be held on December 15, DPA reported.
"We hope to ascend into a new era of Egypt's history, to a bright future for our people," Morsi told members of the 100-member constituent assembly that drafted the constitution.
"Today, we take another step to make the revolution complete," added Morsi, who was accused of a power grab by opposition groups after he issued a decree making all his decision immune to judicial review.
The referendum announcement came as tens of thousands of Islamists rallied outside Cairo University on Saturday to support Morsi, whose decree infuriated judges, many of whom were appointed under former president Hosny Mubarak.
"The people support Morsi's decisions," chanted the demonstrators. Some held placards saying they support his efforts to "cleanse" Egypt, a reference to government and judicial officials appointed under Mubarak.
"Morsi put to referendum a draft constitution that undermines basic freedoms and violates universal values. The struggle will continue," opposition leader Mohammed ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account shortly after Morsi's speech.
The rally was called by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist allies after opposition groups on Friday held a rally to denounce his decisions.
Anti-Morsi protesters are on an open-ended strike in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest Morsi's recent decree.
The Islamist-controlled constituent assembly adopted the draft constitution in a rushed vote to preempt a hearing on Sunday at Egypt's top court to rule on the assembly's legality.
Secular-minded and Christian members of the assembly did not attend the voting session, to protest what they said were attempts by the Islamist majority to dictate the constitution, the first since Mubarak was toppled.
Saturday's rally was largely peaceful but one person died and 24 were injured when a tree fell on protesters, a security official said. The accident occurred when demonstrators climbed a tree near Cairo University.