Will Morsi's security request give Army renewed clout? (+video)
President Mohamed Morsi has asked the military, whose power he curtailed earlier this year, to help keep the peace as Egypt's Dec. 15 constitutional referendum nears.
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Arthur Bright is the Europe Editor at The Christian Science Monitor. He has worked for the Monitor in various capacities since 2004, including as the Online News Editor and a regular contributor to the Monitor's Terrorism & Security blog. He is also a licensed Massachusetts attorney.
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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has called on the military to "preserve security" during the runup to the controversial Dec. 15 constitutional referendum, as opposition critics dismiss his recent reversal of his immunity from oversight as a "nothing" gesture.
Agence France-Presse reports that Mr. Morsi instructed the military to cooperate fully with police "to preserve security and protect vital state institutions for a temporary period, up to the announce of the results from the referendum." The order also allows the military to arrest civilians.
The military has largely been neutral so far in Egypt's political crisis, though it deployed troops on Dec. 6 around the presidential palace to keep the peace amid ongoing opposition protests in the area. The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says the decree will raise fears that the military, which ruled Egypt for decades under former President Hosni Mubarak but was curtailed earlier this year by Morsi, is regaining some of that power.
The president's decree comes on the heels of his annulment of his Nov. 22 power grab, when he declared his power immune to any judicial or legislative review. That order, combined with the Muslim Brotherhood's rush to produce the constitution that will be put to a referendum on Dec. 15, spurred the widespread protests that have wracked Egypt since.
But while Morsi framed the rescission as a concession to the opposition, protesters say that the damage has already been done, reports Kristen Chick for the Monitor.
"Morsi used the powers of the decree to push his constitution on us, so what does it mean if he cancels it now? It means nothing. He achieved his goal already," says Haitham Mohamed, who has spent much of the last week protesting the president's moves. He noted that if the referendum approves the constitution, Morsi's previous decree, and the powers that came with it, would have been invalidated soon anyway. "We demanded that he delay the referendum, and for a constitution we agree on. He ignored this demand." ...