Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has ordered the army to maintain public order and secure government institutions for a referendum later this month on a disputed draft constitution, local media reported on Monday, dpa reported.
The decree issued on Sunday granted army officers the authority to arrest civilians to "maintaining public order" in the lead up to the December 15 referendum on the constitution, which was drafted by an Islamist-led constitutent assembly.
Opposition groups have called for more mass protests to denounce the referendum, which they say undermines democracy. In an attempt to defuse tensions, Morsi annulled a decree he issued on November 22 that made all his decisions immune to judicial review, but insisted that the constitutional vote would go ahead.
The army last week deployed tanks around the presidential palace in Cairo and built a wall of concrete blocks to prevent opposition protesters from reaching the complex after deadly clashes in the area between opponents and supporters of Morsi.
Five people were killed and hundreds were injured in the violence, which underscored deep divisions in Egypt almost two years after the popular revolt that forced Hosny Mubarak to resign.
Egypt's main opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, rejected the referendum saying it will lead to more divisions and tensions.