Key Egyptian opposition bloc rejects constitution vote
Egypt's major opposition coalition on Sunday rejected a referendum on a draft constitution that President Mohammed Morsi said was necessary to fast-track the country's democratic transition, DPA reported.
The Islamist president on Saturday annulled a decree he issued on November 22 that made all his decisions immune to judicial review, but insisted that the constitution vote should go ahead as planned on December 15.
"We reject this referendum because it will lead to more divisions and tensions," the National Salvation Front, a major opposition coalition, said in a statement.
The bloc called on Egyptians to rally Tuesday in major squares nationwide to protest the charter, drafted by an Islamist-led constituent assembly: "Holding the referendum amid all this tension in the country reflects the regime's rashness."
The alliance is led by prominent dissident Mohammed ElBaradei, who vowed on Twitter: "We will bring down a constitution which aborts our rights and freedom."
The opposition has repeatedly said that the constitution ignores fundamental freedoms and women's rights.
If the draft constitution is defeated in the December 15 referendum, Morsi will call for an election within three months to pick a new constituent assembly.
Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood welcomed his latest move and told the opposition to avoid what it called "unjustifiable trouble."
"All Egyptians should go to polls to vote on the constitution," Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghuzlan said.
An alliance of Islamists, including the Muslim Brotherhood, said it would hold mass rallies Tuesday to show support for Morsi, a state-run newspaper reported online.
Opponents camped outside the presidential palace in eastern Cairo for the third straight day, joined Sunday by more protesters.
The area was the scene of deadly clashes between Morsi's backers and opponents last week.
Egypt has been hit by fierce protests in the last two weeks to push Morsi to reverse his expanded powers and suspend the constitutional vote. The crisis has been Egypt's worst since Morsi took office in June.