Egyptian protesters gather in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Sunday. President Morsi edicts, which were announced on Thursday, place him above oversight of any kind.(Photo: Ahmed Gomaa, AP)
CAIRO -- Egypt's Islamist president has told the nation's top
judges that he acted within his rights when he issued a series of
decrees giving him sweeping powers, according to his spokesman.
That stand is likely to trigger a prolonged showdown with the opposition.
spokesman Yasser Ali told reporters Monday that Mohammed Morsi assured
the judges that the decrees did not in any way "infringe" on the
Ali's comments signaled Morsi's resolve not to back
down or compromise on the steps he announced Thursday, putting himself
and a body writing a new constitution above the judiciary.
Morsi's opponents and supporters plan rival rallies on Tuesday in Cairo.
dispute over the decrees, the latest in the country's bumpy transition
to democracy, has taken a toll on the nation's already ailing economy -
Egypt's benchmark stock index dropped more than 9.5 percentage points on
Sunday, the first day of trading since Morsi's announcement. It fell
again Monday during early trading but recovered to close up by 2.6
It has also played out in urban street protests
across the country, including in the capital Cairo and the
Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
The Health Ministry said
Monday that a total of 444 people have been wounded nationwide since the
clashes erupted on Friday. Forty-nine of these remain hospitalized, it
said in a statement carried by official news agency MENA.
Nile Delta city of Damanhoor, a teenager was killed late Sunday and at
least 40 people were wounded when a group of anti-Morsi protesters tried
to storm the local offices of the political arm of the president's
fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, the most powerful political force in
It was the first reported death from the street battles
over the decrees, officials said on condition of anonymity because they
were not authorized to speak to the media.
On Monday, thousands
gathered in Damanhoor for the teenager's funeral, while in Cairo
thousands more marched through Tahrir square for the funeral of another
young Egyptian killed in clashes with police in the capital. Tahrir was
the birthplace of last year's uprising that toppled authoritarian leader
An informal truce between the police and
protesters staging a sit-in in the square allowed the funeral to go
ahead peacefully. The sit-in, which has hundreds of participants, is
aimed at forcing Morsi to back down.
Morsi's office said in a
statement that he had ordered the country's top prosecutor to
investigate the teenager's death, along with that of the man killed in
Cairo last week during demonstrations to mark the anniversary of deadly
protests last year that called for an end to the then-ruling military.
judiciary, the main target of Morsi's edicts, has pushed back, calling
the decrees a power grab and an "assault" on the branch's independence.
Judges and prosecutors stayed away from many courts in Cairo and other
cities on Sunday and Monday.
Morsi supporters insist the measures
were necessary to prevent the courts, which already dissolved the
elected lower house of parliament, from delaying efforts to bring
stability by disbanding the panel writing the new constitution, as
judges were considering doing. Both the parliament and the
constitutional assembly are dominated by Islamists.
Islamist, accuses Mubarak loyalists in the judiciary of seeking to
thwart the revolution's goals. His Thursday edicts bar the judiciary
from disbanding the constitutional assembly or parliament's upper house.