Opposition forces in Egypt have called for nationwide protests after the country’s President Mohamed Morsi issued a new constitutional declaration to expand his powers.
“This (declaration) is a coup against legitimacy… We are calling on all Egyptians to protest in all of Egypt’s squares on Friday,” said the chairman of Egypt’s Lawyers Syndicate, Sameh Ashour, at a joint press conference with prominent opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei on Thursday.
“Morsi, instead of acting like a president for all of Egypt, which is already polarized, has poured fuel on the fire” Ashour added.
ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and the former director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), also condemned President Morsi, saying that the president “usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh, a major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences.”
Earlier in the day, large protest rallies both in support and against Morsi were staged across the country including the capital Cairo.
While some Egyptians fully support Morsi’s decrees, others say he is following the footsteps of ousted Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak and accuse him of having usurped the revolution.
“We have waited a long time for these decisions, they are courageous decisions and the rest will follow, we have to clean up the media and stop the media attacking the president,” said a pro-Morsi protester during the demonstration.
Under Thursday’s new declaration, no judicial body can dissolve Egypt’s Constituent Assembly that is currently writing a new constitution.
“The president can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution,” Presidential Spokesman Yasser Ali said while reading out the constitutional declaration on state television.
“The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal,” he added.
According to Ali, Morsi has also sacked Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud and appointed Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah to replace him.
The new presidential decree also called for the retrial of Mubarak, who was sentenced to life in prison in June for the killing of pro-democracy protesters during the country’s revolution in 2011.