Egypt’s non-Islamist opposition groups are uniting against President Mohamed Morsy’s constitutional decree released Thursday night. Political leaders Mohamed ElBaradei and Hamdeen Sabahy will lead marches to Tahrir Square on Friday.
“What you see today is the union of all national forces, from the left, the centre and the right,” ElBaradei said before holding hands and lifting arms with Sabahy and Amr Moussa in a show of unity. “We are all working as if one man, or one woman, in order to achieve the demands of the revolution.”
The Dostour Party Chairman’s words came at a press conference held at the Wafd Party headquarters Thursday night.
The attendees released a statement rejecting Morsy’s decree and demanding he repeal it. They also demanded the dissolution of the Constituent Assembly and the formation of a new, more balanced one; and legislating a transitional justice law to punish those who killed protesters during the 18 day uprising, the transitional period, and Morsy’s term so far.
They called on all Egyptians to protest in Tahrir Square and across the country to demand the repeal of the new constitutional decree and “bring back the revolution.”
The statement said Morsy’s legitimacy hangs in the balance and that if he does not repeal the decree he would lose it.
A large group of political leaders and figures other than ElBaradei, Moussa and Sabahy were in attendance including Egyptian Social Democratic Party Chairman Mohamed Abu El-Ghar; Al- Dostour members Ahmed El-Borai, Mostafa El-Gendy and George Ishak; Wahid Abdel Meguid; Tayseer Fahmy; Amr Hamzawy; Sameh Ashour; Hossam Eissa; Yehia El-Gamal; and others.
Sabahy announced that all those gathered had agreed to form a “united management” of the opposition in order to “run this battle for poor Egyptians, for food and dignity for all, and for the revolution.”
Before the statement the leaders held a meeting to discuss Morsy’s decree and their plan of action. Some argued that they should release a statement declaring Morsy’s presidency illegitimate but Al- Dostour Deputy Chairman El-Borai said Islamists would argue that “the ballot box brought Morsy” and as such declaring him illegitimate would be undemocratic.
He instead suggested the statement refer to Morsy’s legitimacy hanging in the balance and that if he does not repeal his decree then he would become an illegitimate leader.
Actress and leftist activist Tayseer Fahmy demanded political leaders go to Tahrir Square right away in support of the youth embroiled in a street battle with the police in Mohamed Mahmoud Street.
“You need to leave the virtual world of Facebook and Twitter and go to the street; the youth will support you right away,” she told ElBaradei.
Former independent member of parliament Amr Hamzawy urged Moussa and Sabahy to forgo previous engagements and lead marches to Tahrir from different mosques alongside El-Baradei. Sabahy and ElBaradei will lead a march from Mostafa Mahmoud mosque to Tahrir. Moussa has not announced if he will lead a march.
ElBaradei called on all Egyptians to join him in peaceful marches Friday “to save the nation, for Egypt is going through a decisive moment.”
Morsy had released a constitutional decree Thursday night declaring that his decisions and other decrees since his inauguration are inviolable and cannot be repealed in a court or otherwise. His decisions are not to be challenged by the judiciary.
He afforded the same status to the Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting the new constitution and the Shura Council, parliament’s upper house, which according to his decree are both now inviolable and can not be dissolved by court. Morsy extended the Constituent Assembly’s deadline for completing a draft constitution by a further two months.
The president also reduced a the prosecutor general’s term to four years, thus removing current prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, and decreed that future prosecutors are to be hired by the president before appointing a new one, Talaat Abdalla.
He declared that those injured in the revolution are to receive special compensation equal to that of the families of those killed and announced the re-trial of all former regime figures accused of crimes during the 18-day uprising. The decree did not mention crimes committed by regime officials during the transitional period where the military was in power.
Finally, Morsy gave himself the right to “take any decision necessary to protect the revolution, the nation, or national unity” and later the presidency released a “revolution protection law” granting the president many emergency powers and creating “revolution protection” prosecution offices across Egypt.