9 Dec 2012

Mursi decree annulled

2:45 pm on 9 December 2012

President Mohamed Mursi of Egypt has annulled a decree he issued last month expanding his powers.

But an official said in Cairo on Saturday that a referendum on a draft constitution will still go ahead as planned on 15 December.

The decree and the referendum are at the heart of protests in the past two weeks. The decree was issued on 22 November.

Earlier, the opposition called for daily street protests to continue until Mr Mursi acceded to their demands to give up his expanded powers and drop the referendum.

"The will of the people is turning toward a general strike," a statement issued by the National Salvation Front said.

Mr Mursi, 61, has been at loggerheads with the judiciary since taking office in June this year.

His critics have accused him of acting like a dictator, but he says he is safeguarding the revolution and the extra powers were needed to force through reforms.

Critics say the draft constitution was rushed through the constituent assembly without proper consultation and does not do enough to protect political and religious freedoms and the rights of women.

Military statement

Earlier, the military urged all political forces to solve their differences in dialogue.

A spokesman said dialogue is the best and only way to reach consensus. A statement read on state television said the opposite of that would bring Egypt to a dark tunnel, which the military would not allow.