CAIRO – Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi struck an uncompromising stand Monday over his seizure of near absolute powers, refusing in a meeting with top judicial authorities to rescind a package of constitutional amendments that placed his edicts above oversight by the courts.
Morsi’s supporters, meanwhile, canceled a massive rally planned for Tuesday to compete with a demonstration by his opponents, citing the need to “defuse tension” at a time when anger over the president’s moves is mounting, according to a spokesman for the president’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The opposition rally was going ahead as scheduled at Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s regime nearly two years ago.
The meeting between Morsi and members of the Supreme Judiciary Council was a bid to resolve a four-day crisis that has plunged the country into a new round of turmoil, with clashes between the two sides that have left one protester dead and hundreds wounded.
Morsi told the judges that while the constitutional declaration he announced Thursday grants him immunity from any oversight, he intended to restrict that to what it described as “sovereignty issues.”
The vaguely worded statement did not define those issues, but they were widely interpreted to cover declaration of war, imposition of martial law, breaking diplomatic relations with a foreign nation or dismissing a Cabinet.