Cairo: The discord between Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi and the country’s judiciary seems to intensify as top courts’ judges went on strike Wednesday, protesting against the decrees that grant the President sweeping powers, putting him above judiciary.
As per a BBC report, the nation’s Appeals courts and the Court of Cassation will halt work until the decree is revoked, said the judges.
The high court of appeal is led by Mohammed Mumtaz Metwali, who also chairs the Supreme Judiciary Council, which oversees the nation`s court system.
In a statement, judges of the high appeals court, known as the Court of Cassation, denounced Mursi`s decrees as an "unprecedented" assault on the judiciary and its principles. It said the decision to halt work at all its circuits was justified by the "magnitude" of the crisis.
Ahead of the strike Mursi on Monday had tried to stave off the crisis by meeting top judges and assuring them that his decrees didn’t infringe on judiciary.
Mursi also reasoned that the decree was temporary and was limited in scope.
The judges’ strike comes a day after mass anti-Mursi rallies were held in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Minya and other Nile Delta cities on Tuesday.
Tens of thousands of Egyptians thronged Tahrir Square, chanting the slogans that reverberated in Egypt during Hosni Mubarak’s ouster revolution a year ago.
The massive protests were sparked by the decrees, issued by the President last Thursday, which granted Mursi absolute powers barring judges from dissolving the assembly that is rushing to draft a new constitution.
The decrees also authorize the President to take any measures to preserve the revolution, national unity or safeguard national security.
Even as judges go on strike, the Islamist-dominated assembly is set to vote on a Constitutional draft on Thursday, officials said.
The constitution which is being drafted is at the centre of the whole furore, as many are concerned about the intentions of an assembly dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.
Egyptians fear that Mursi wants to impose a constitution that would give a major emphasis on role of Islam in governance, including the possibility of Sharia law being imposed.
Meanwhile, Muslim brotherhood, which had earlier recalled the decision to launch a counter-protest rally in support of Mursi, has now said that it plans to hold a rival rally on Saturday in Tahrir Square, dubbed "In support of legitimacy and Shariah (Islamic law)."
Mursi and his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood have accused the judiciary of being dominated by Mubarak-era appointees who are trying to undermine the new leader, allegations the judges have rejected.
The constitutional court ruled in June to dissolve parliament`s lower chamber, which is dominated by Islamists, on grounds that the law governing the elections didn`t provide equal opportunities for candidates. There were warnings before the vote that such legal pitfalls might be forthcoming but the elections went ahead anyway.
With Agency Inputs