Morsi’s con­ces­sions fail to quiet foes

Pres­i­dent re­scinds much of de­cree, but ref­er­en­dum not wel­comed.

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By David D. Kirk­patrick

CAIRO — Crowds of pro­test­ers marched on the pres­i­den­tial palace in Cairo on Sun­day, reg­is­ter­ing fresh anger against Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi’s plan to go ahead with a ref­er­en­dum on an Is­lamist-backed draft con­sti­tu­tion.

With ef­forts to quell the ten­sions flag­ging, Morsi on Sun­day is­sued an or­der plac­ing se­cu­rity over government in­sti­tu­tions in the hands of the mil­i­tary un­til af­ter the re­sults of Satur­day’s ref­er­en­dum, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported. The or­der, which will take ef­fect to­day, also grants sol­diers the right to ar­rest civil­ians.

In a con­ces­sion to the op­po­si­tion, Morsi re­scinded Satur­day most of a sweep­ing Nov. 22 de­cree that tem­po­rar­ily el­e­vated his de­ci­sions above ju­di­cial re­view and that had put tens of thou­sands of pro­test­ers into the streets call­ing for his down­fall. He also of­fered a con­vo­luted ar­range­ment for the fac­tions to ne­go­ti­ate con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments this week that would be added to the char­ter af­ter the vote.

But, Morsi did not budge on a crit­i­cal de­mand: that he post­pone the ref­er­en­dum set for Satur­day to al­low a thor­ough over­haul of the pro­posed char­ter, which lib­eral groups say has in­ad­e­quate pro­tec­tion of in­di­vid­ual rights and pro­vi­sions that could some­day give Mus­lim re­li­gious au­thor­i­ties new in­flu­ence. His de­ci­sion Sun­day to de­ploy the mil­i­tary, which has been widely in­ter­preted an im­pos­ing mar­tial law, seemed to in­di­cate his re­solve.

Some op­po­si­tion lead­ers vowed to con­tinue the fight to de­rail the ref­er­en­dum, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Sal­va­tion Front, which an­nounced that it would meet to de­cide on a course of ac­tion, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

“We are against this process from start to fin­ish,” a spokesman of the Na­tional Sal­va­tion Front, Hus­sein Ab­del Ghani, said Sun­day, ac­cord­ing to Reuters. He called for more street protests on Tues­day.

In re­cent days, pro­test­ers have at­tacked more than two dozen Mus­lim Brother­hood of­fices and ran­sacked the group’s head­quar­ters, and more than seven peo­ple have died in street fight­ing be­tween Is­lamists and their op­po­nents.

The moves over the week­end of­fered lit­tle hope of fully re­solv­ing the stand­off, in part be­cause op­po­si­tion lead­ers had ruled out — even be­fore his con­ces­sions were an­nounced — any rushed at­tempt at a com­pro­mise just days be­fore the ref­er­en­dum.

“No mind would ac­cept di­a­logue at gun­point,” said Mo­hamed Abu El Ghar, an op­po­si­tion leader.

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