Egypt opposition urges more protests
BY Associated Press
Monday, December 10, 2012
12/10/12 at 5:33 AM
Egypt's opposition said Sunday it will keep up protests against a referendum on a disputed draft constitution but stopped short of advocating either a boycott or a "no" vote less than a week before the ballot.
The opposition was still pushing for Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to cancel the Dec. 15 referendum, saying they refuse to call it legitimate.
The referendum has deeply polarized Egypt and sparked some of the bloodiest clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents since he came to power in June.
Morsi has ordered the military to maintain security and protect state institutions until the results of the referendum are announced.
The new presidential decree, published in the official gazette, would be effective starting Monday. The military is asked to coordinate with the police on maintaining security and would also be entitled to arrest civilians.
Morsi insists on holding the referendum on schedule. Instead, as a concession to his opponents, he rescinded decrees he issued last month granting him almost unrestricted powers, giving himself and the panel that drafted the constitution immunity from judicial oversight.
The decrees sparked the protests. Opponents said they were issued initially to protect the disputed constitution from court challenges.
Rushing the approval of the constitution in a late night session further inflamed those who claim Morsi and his Islamist allies, including the Muslim Brotherhood, are monopolizing power and trying to force their agenda into practice.
The opposition sent hundreds of thousands of protesters into the streets, in unprecedented mass rallies for the largely secular groups since they led the popular uprising last year that toppled President Hosni Mubarak.
This prompted protests by Morsi supporters and sparked bouts of street battles that left six people dead.
The National Salvation Front, an umbrella opposition group said Sunday that holding the referendum would lead to more strife. It called for another mass demonstration on Tuesday.