Saturday, December 8, 2012

Morsi Backs Down — For Now

At the Los Angeles Times, "Egypt's Morsi backs off decree that expanded his power":

CAIRO — In a political reversal to calm weeks of unrest, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi early Sunday rescinded much of last month’s decree that expanded his powers and exposed a dangerous divide between the nation’s Islamists and the mainly secular opposition.

The announcement reverses most of the declaration the Islamist president issued Nov. 22, including putting his office beyond judicial oversight. The peeling away of that power was a major demand of protesters. But Morsi continued to defy the opposition by refusing to cancel a Dec. 15 referendum on a proposed constitution drafted by an Islamist-dominated assembly.

The turnaround by Morsi, who in a national address Thursday had refused to budge on his decree, was a signal that he wanted to ease tension that has resulted in clashes between his supporters and opposition groups that have left at least six people dead and hundreds injured.

It was unlikely, however, that reversing the decree but sticking to the referendum vote would appease the tens of thousands of protesters who have marched on his palace in the capital and in cities across Egypt.

“This is not a compromise; the president got all that he wanted,” said Bassem Sabry, an activist and writer. “What the Muslim Brotherhood wants [is to] get the constitution rammed through in a quick referendum before anyone gets a chance to properly discuss it.”

Morsi’s concessions came as news reports indicated that he was preparing to reimpose emergency law to allow soldiers to arrest civilians in response to the latest unrest.
More at the link.

It won't last. Morsi will come up with something else, some other extra-constitutional measures to consolidate the Muslim Brotherhood's choke hold on the state. See Eric Trager's piece from a couple weeks back, at TNR, "Shame on Anyone Who Ever Thought Mohammad Morsi Was a Moderate."