Early voting delayed on draft constitution
President weighs how to proceed as thousands protest.
CAIRO — Egypt postponed the start of early voting on a disputed draft constitution Friday, signaling an attempt by President Mohammed Morsi’s government to back down and give room for negotiations with the opposition as it faces mass protests calling for the referendum to be canceled.
The announcement made by the head of Egypt’s election committee, Ismail Hamdi, came a day after Morsi appealed for dialogue even as he accused tens of thousands of protesters marching on his palace of being infiltrated by thugs. He has so far made no concrete concessions to defuse the crisis that has plunged the country into new turmoil.
The political crisis has been building since Morsi issued a decree Nov. 22 that gave him absolute powers and immunity from judicial oversight.
The crisis intensified when Morsi called for a Dec. 15 national referendum on the draft constitution produced by the Islamist-led constituent assembly after rushing it in a marathon session. Liberals had quit the assembly, which was already facing legal appeals to disband. The draft came with loopholes and was infused with articles that liberals fear
— President Barack Obama will ask Congress for $60.4 billion in federal aid for New York, New Jersey and other states hit by Superstorm Sandy, congressional aides said Friday.
Officials from the affected states praised the request and urged Congress to enact it as quickly as possible.
“Today’s agreement on the administration’s request to Congress would authorize more than $60 billion in funding that will enable our states to recover, repair, and rebuild better and stronger than before,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a joint statement.
Cuomo, a Democrat, and Christie, a Republican, came to Washington on Thursday to press for as large a disaster aid package as possible. Friday’s request was at the top end of what had been expected.
The aid will help states rebuild public infrastructure like roads and tunnels and help thousands of people displaced from their homes. Superstorm Sandy was the most costly natural disaster since Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and one of the worst storms ever in the Northeast.
“While more may be needed in the long term, this robust package is a major first step that we will work to pass as quickly as possible in Congress to help devastated communities, families and businesses,” Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., and Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., said in