Egypt's Morsi tells judges decree limited in scope

Following widespread unrest, Egyptian president says decree limiting judiciary's authority will be limited to "sovereign" matters.

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi speaking 390 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi speaking 390
(photo credit: REUTERS)
CAIRO - Egypt's president agreed on Monday that only his decisions related to "sovereign" matters would be protected from judicial review, his spokesman said, indicating he had accepted a judiciary-proposed compromise to try to defuse a crisis.
President Mohamed Morsi had enraged opponents with a decree on Thursday that expanded his powers and put beyond legal oversight any decision he took until parliament was in place. Senior judges proposed he limit that to "sovereign matters."
"The president said he had the utmost respect for the judicial authority and its members," presidential spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters.
He added that regarding the issue of immunity for presidential decisions, "what is intended is those that are linked to matters of sovereignty."
Ali said there had been no amendments to the decree which also shielded from legal challenge the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt's new constitution and the upper house of parliament which is also controlled by Morsi's allies.
Morsi was propelled to power by the Muslim Brotherhood.
"The president and the Supreme Judicial Council confirmed their desire for no conflict or difference between the judicial and presidential authorities," Ali said.
The decree had also ordered new investigations into crimes committed against protesters during the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February, 2011, suggesting Mubarak and his aides would face retrial.
Ali said new investigations and trials would only occur "where new evidence appeared".
Morsi had also reiterated the decree was temporary and would end when a new constitution was in place and a new parliament elected.