Freedom House Denounces Morsi Power-Grab in Egypt
Freedom House denounces Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi's decision to claim sweeping new powers for himself through a constitutional declaration that expands his presidential power significantly beyond that of his predecessors, including those of Hosni Mubarak. This action poses a serious threat to the democratic transition in Egypt, and Freedom House urges President Morsi to reverse the declaration immediately.
The November 22nd declaration violates the most basic principles of the rule of law and accountable democracy. The decree renders all decisions made by the president since taking power in June 2012 irrevocable by any power or legal authority. In addition, the declaration protects the Constituent Assembly, the body charged with drafting the new constitution, from dissolution and extends its work for another two months, effectively circumventing the Supreme Constitutional Court, which was to have ruled on the legality of the Constituent Assembly on December 2nd. Morsi's declaration also removes the Prosecutor General, with whom he has clashed in the past but whose position is guaranteed by law. Perhaps most importantly, the declaration authorizes the President to take any measures to safeguard the revolution, national unity, and security, a broad step that effectively re-establishes Egypt's notorious Emergency Law. Taken together, the seven articles of Morsi's declaration amount to a major challenge to constituted legal authority in Egypt and a dangerous step toward authoritarian rule.
"With these actions, President Morsi is returning to the type of authoritarian rule the Egyptian people fought so hard to remove in 2011," said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. "Events of January-February 2011 in Egypt were a call for democracy and dignity, not a power-grab by new leaders that could lead to violence and instability."
In reaction to the declaration, the Judges Club of Egypt denounced Morsi's declaration and suspended all court activities until it is revoked. Many political forces and parties in Egypt likewise issued condemnatory statements and thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets throughout Egypt in opposition.
"The United States and other nations must express in strong terms to President Morsi that the rule of law, democratic institutions, and due process are necessary for Egypt to achieve the political and economic reforms it needs to be a regional and world leader," said Charles Dunne, director for Middle East and North Africa programs at Freedom House.
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.
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