Egyptian Opposition Protests After President Grants Himself Sweeping Powers
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi says he wants to move Egypt forward as a stable and safe nation, and says he does not want sole control of the country.
He made the remarks in a speech Friday in Cairo, as supporters and anti-government protesters rallied in different parts of the city. Mr. Morsi said he was not behind the dissolving of the lawmaking body, and he vowed to continue the nation's work on a new constitution. He said Egypt is on a path to freedom and democracy.
His remarks come a day after he put himself above oversight and declared that his decisions cannot be appealed by the courts or any other authority.
In reponse, opposition supporters gathered to demonstrate in Cairo's Tahrir Square and set fire to Muslim Brotherhood offices in several other cities, including Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia.
Opposition leader and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradai, who says Mr. Morsi has declared himself a "new pharaoh," is expected to attend the Cairo protests. The liberal politician and former chief of the U.N. nuclear energy agency says Mr. Morsi has usurped all state powers and warned that there could be dire consequences.
President Morsi's spokesman announced the decree Thursday, citing a need to "protect the revolution." Opposition members have called the move illegal.
The decree also bars Egypt's judiciary from dissolving the upper house of parliament and an assembly drafting a new constitution -- two bodies dominated by Mr. Morsi's Islamist allies.
In addition, Mr. Morsi has ordered retrials of former officials who used violence in efforts to suppress last year's popular revolution against longtime president Hosni Mubarak.
Mr. Morsi's supporters say his decree was long overdue.
The president's action comes after he received international praise for mediating a Gaze cease-fire.
Israeli Gunfire Kills Palestinian
Israeli gunfire at the Gaza Strip border has killed a Palestinian--the first death since a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas militants halted eight days of deadly fighting.
Palestinian medical officials say Anwar Qdeih was shot as he approached the border fence Friday with a group of Palestinians. Several others were wounded in the violence. Reuters news agency quotes a relative of Qdeih as saying he was trying to place a Hamas flag on the fence.
Israel said troops fired warning shots in the air when a group approached the Israeli border. There was no immediate reaction from Hamas militants.
The violence comes amid more than a day of quiet skies, after an Egyptian-brokered truce went into effect late Wednesday.
Gaza's Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, hailed the territory's multiple militant groups for respecting the cease-fire.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was "giving the truce a chance," but was prepared for its possible collapse.