Egypt assembly seeks to wrap up constitution

Wed Nov 28, 2012 1:42pm EST
 
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By Tamim Elyan and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO (Reuters) - The assembly writing Egypt's constitution said it could wrap up a final draft later on Wednesday, a move the Muslim Brotherhood sees as a way out of a crisis over a decree by President Mohamed Mursi that protesters say gives him dictatorial powers.

But as Mursi's opponents staged a sixth day of protests in Tahrir Square, critics said the Islamist-dominated assembly's bid to finish the constitution quickly could make matters worse.

Two people have been killed and hundreds injured in countrywide protest set off by Mursi's decree.

The Brotherhood hopes to end the crisis by replacing Mursi's controversial decree with an entirely new constitution that would need to be approved in a popular referendum, a Brotherhood official told Reuters.

It is a gamble based on the Islamists' belief that they can mobilize enough voters to win the referendum: they have won all elections held since Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power.

But the move seemed likely to deepen divisions that are being exposed in the street.

The Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies called for protests on Saturday in Tahrir Square, setting the stage for more confrontation with their opponents, who staged a mass rally there on Tuesday.

The constitution is one of the main reasons Mursi is at loggerheads with non-Islamist opponents. They are boycotting the 100-member constitutional assembly, saying the Islamists have tried to impose their vision for Egypt's future.   Continued...

 
Protesters hit a riot policeman (C) after surrounding him during clashes in front of the U.S Embassy near Tahrir Square in Cairo November 28, 2012. Hundreds of demonstrators were in Cairo's Tahrir Square for a sixth day on Wednesday to demand that President Mohamed Mursi rescind a decree they say gives him dictatorial powers, and two of Egypt's top courts stopped work in protest. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh