Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi assumed sweeping powers on Thursday, prompting prominent opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei to accuse him of usurping authority and becoming a “new pharaoh.”
“The president can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution,” according to a decree read out on television by presidential spokesman Yasser Ali.
“The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal.”
Mursi also sacked prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmud, whom he failed to oust last month, appointing Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah to replace him, who was immediately sworn in on Thursday night.
That set him on another collision course with the country’s judiciary after he last month promised to bring back to court ex-regime officials acquitted of organizing an attack on protesters during last year’s uprising against ousted leader Hosni Mubarak.
Nobel laureate and former U.N. atomic energy agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei lashed out at the declaration, which effectively puts the president above judicial oversight.
“Mursi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt’s new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences,” ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account.
Even before the announcement was read out, Islamists had gathered outside the High Court in central Cairo demanding the “cleansing of the judiciary.”
Meanwhile, former presidential candidates in this year’s election also attacked Mursi’s decisions.
“The revolution will not accept a new dictator in Egypt,” said leftist former candidate Hamdeen Sabahi.
“Egypt is looking for solutions and the president driven more problems,” Sabahi added.
Meanwhile Amr Moussa, ex-candidate and former Arab League chief, said: “I fear renewed unrest following Mursi’s decrees.”
The president in his pronouncements on Thursday ordered “new investigations and retrials” in the cases dealing with the deaths of protesters, a decision that could net senior military officials.
He also said no judicial body can dissolve the upper house of parliament or the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly that is writing a new constitution and which has been criticized by the secular-minded opposition for failing to represent all segments of society.
He has also given the body -- which was due to issue a draft constitution in December -- two extra months to come up with a charter, which will then be put to a referendum.
The declaration is aimed at “cleansing state institutions” and “destroying the infrastructure of the old regime.”
Mursi, who belongs to the powerful Muslim Brotherhood, is the first elected president after the popular uprising that toppled Mubarak last year.