2 Dec 2012

Mass rallies in Egypt in support of president

5:55 am on 2 December 2012

Mass rallies are being held in Egypt to support of sweeping new powers assumed by President Mohammed Mursi and a new draft constitution.

The demonstrations follow days of rival protests by supporters and opponents of the president, after a draft constitution was passed by an assembly on Friday.

The assembly acted before Egypt's top court could meet to rule on Sunday on whether the assembly should be dissolved.

The BBC reports tens of thousands of supporters of Mr Mursi, carrying flags and portraits of the president, gathered outside Cairo university on Saturday.

"The people support the president's decision!" they chanted, while a banner read: "The people want the implementation of God's law."

Pro-Brotherhood crowds also demonstrated in other Egyptian cities. The Mena news agency reported clashes broke out between supporters of Mr Morsi and unidentified activists in Alexandria.

Mr Mursi issued a decree last Thursday that presidential decisions could not be revoked by the courts.

The president insists the powers he has taken are meant to be temporary and will protect the transition to a constitutional democracy.

However, their extent has raised fears that he might become a new pharaoh.

The draft constitution limits the amount of time a president can serve to two four-year terms.

The BBC reports it also introduces some civilian oversight of the military establishment.

The draft keeps in place an article defining Sharia law as the main source of legislation.