Egypt’s president cancels decree that sparked protests

Egypt’s President Mohamed Mursi (4th L) attends a meeting with Vice President Mahmoud Mekky (3rd L) and other politicians and heads of parties at the presidential palace in Cairo on Saturday. (Reuters)


CAIRO: Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi has canceled a decree that gave him sweeping powers and sparked huge protests, but did not delay a referendum on a constitution as his opponents had demanded.

The announcement came from the spokesman for politicians and other figures who took part in a national dialogue on Saturday convened by the Islamist president. But the main opposition group stayed away, so the talks had little credibility among protesters.

One of the opposition’s main demands was to scrap a referendum on a constitution that was drafted by an Islamist-led assembly. Liberals and others quit the assembly, saying their voices were not being heard.
But that vote will go ahead on Dec. 15 as planned.

Officials said those at Saturday’s talks had discussed a delay but found legal obstacles prevented any change in the date for the referendum.

The president issued a new decree in which the first article “cancels the constitutional declaration” announced on Nov. 22, spokesman Mohamed Selim Al-Awa told a news conference. Last month’s decree had led to protests and deadly violence.

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