Egyptians Protest After Panel Approves Draft Constitution

Egyptians have gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square Friday for an eighth straight day of demonstrations against President Mohamed Morsi, as an Islamist-dominated panel approved Egypt's new draft constitution that must now be voted on in a nationwide referendum.  

The panel, boycotted by several Christian and liberal members, retained the principles of Islamic law as the main source of legislation. The group hastily rushed through the approval of the 234 articles in a meeting that lasted from Thursday afternoon until until early Friday.

The assembly moved up the vote in order to pass the draft before Sunday, when Egypt's highest judicial power is expected to rule on whether to dissolve the panel.

Over the past few days, about 30 liberal and Christian members pulled out of the panel to protest what they called the hijacking of the process by Islamists loyal to President Mohamed Morsi.

The Egyptian leader caused a political uproar last week when he granted himself sweeping new powers that bar the judiciary from challenging his decisions. Morsi told state television Thursday the decree will end immediately after people vote on the constitution.

Egyptian protesters are angered by the president's power grab and are accusing the president of acting like a dictator.

"Complete national unity against a new dictatorship, worse than the previous one. So we came today and we will meet," said protester Ahmed Elsayed Emara. "There will be marches and they will all call for one demand, which is the fall of the constitutional declaration. And if we are faced with stubbornness or neglect, our sit-in will continue until the departure of Dr. Morsi.''

Two people have been killed and hundreds injured in the nationwide demonstrations.

The Muslim Brotherhood has called a rival nationwide demonstration Saturday in support of the edict.

Meanwhile, the constitutional court vowed to resist what it characterized as an attempt by Morsi to undermine the court system. Egypt's highest courts went on strike Wednesday in protest of the president's decrees, vowing to stop their work until the constitutional court rules on Morsi's order granting himself immunity from judicial review.

Morsi is expected to put the draft constitution to a public referendum as early as mid-December. News by VOA News.

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