Egypt crisis: Mohammed Mursi meets top judges

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says it seems that President Mursi is now "reaching out for a compromise"

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi is meeting senior judges in an effort to settle a mounting crisis over the extent of his powers.

A decree giving him sweeping new powers was announced on Thursday, sparking violent protests nationwide and a sharp drop in the Egyptian stock market.

Mr Mursi said on Sunday the decree was temporary and not intended to concentrate power in his hands.

The president expressed confidence that a solution would be found.

"President Mursi is very optimistic that Egyptians will overcome this challenge as they have overcome other challenges," spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters ahead of Monday's meeting with members of the Supreme Judicial Council.

The president said earlier he hoped to reach consensus on a new constitution currently being drafted, he added, and the decree was intended to prevent democratically-elected bodies from being undermined.

Mediation efforts

The Judges' Club, which represents judges throughout the country, called for a nationwide strike to protest against the decree over the weekend.

Start Quote

President Mursi may have been guilty of a degree of over-confidence, or political naivety”

End Quote

The journalists' union also rejected the president's decree and threatened to go on strike.

But the top judicial body, the Supreme Judicial Council, appeared not to reject the decree outright, saying it should only apply to "sovereign matters", and urged judges to return to work.

Justice Minister Ahmed Mekky has begun efforts to mediate between the president and the judges.

The minister said he himself had some reservations about the president's decree, Reuters reported. When asked by reporters on Monday about the council's insistence that the decree be limited to sovereign matters, he said: "I believe President Mohammed Mursi wants that."

A possible way out of the crisis would be for a memorandum or amendment defining the decree's limits, reports said.

Several prominent opposition leaders, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed elBaradei, have said they will not engage in dialogue with the president until he rescinds the measure, known as the constitutional declaration.

Meanwhile a Cairo administrative court has said it will hold a first hearing on 4 December in a case brought by lawyers and activists against the decree.

Teenager dies

According to President Mursi's decree, no authority can revoke presidential decisions.

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi in Cairo (23 Nov 2012) President Mursi says he wants to find common ground on the constitution.

There is a bar on judges dissolving the assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution. The president is also authorised to take any measures to preserve the revolution, national unity or safeguard national security.

The decree has sparked violent protests in Cairo and across the country since it was announced.

On Sunday teenager Islam Fathy Massoud died and 60 people were injured in clashes in the Nile Delta town of Damanhour between the president's supporters and opponents.

His funeral was held on Monday, while in Cairo thousands of people marched through Tahrir square for the funeral of another young activist killed in recent clashes with police.

Egypt's stock market, which had seen a fall of almost 10% on Sunday, recovered some ground on Monday morning.

Large demonstrations are planned by supporters and opponents of Mr Mursi on Tuesday.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called for a million-man march to take place outside Cairo University.

More on This Story

More Middle East stories


Features & Analysis

  • Stained glass of man with swordFrance 1 England 0

    The most important battle you have probably never heard of

  • Golden retriever10 things

    Dogs get jealous, and nine more nuggets from the week's news

  • Pro-Israel demonstrators shout slogans while protesting in Berlin - 25 July 2014Holocaust guilt

    Gaza conflict leaves Germans confused over who to support

  • The emir of Kuwait Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-SabahFreedoms fear

    Growing concern for rights as Kuwait revokes citizenships

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • CastleRoyal real estate

    No longer reserved for kings and queens, some find living in a castle simply divine


  • A robot which is due to compete in the 2014 RoboCupClick Watch

    Why robots from 45 countries are playing football in Brazil, plus other technology news

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.