Opposition Defiant After Morsi Rescinds Decree
Despite demands, Egyptian President refuses to postpone controversial referendum
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announced late Saturday that despite annulling the controversial decree that placed his office above judicial review, he refused to postpone the upcoming December 15 vote on the draft constitution, as protesters demand.
A spokesperson for opposition group National Salvation Front (NSF) said annulling the decree was "relatively meaningless".
"The key issue of securing the process of adopting of the constitution is done," Khaled Dawood told Al Jazeera.
The front is reportedly meeting later on Sunday to make a formal response to Morsi's decision to scrap the decree.
Mid-East blogger, Juan Cole, reports that the NSF coalition had also "called for Egypt’s youth to continue to mass peacefully in 'all the squares of Egypt' until their other demand, that the referendum on the Muslim Brotherhood constitution, is canceled. They appear to be setting the state for a massive general strike."
In response, Morsi's government began to erect a wall on Sunday around his presidential palace to block any attempt by anti-government protesters from reaching the palace gates, Al Jazeera reports.
When asked whether the opposition's goal was to unseat Morsi, NSF spokesman Dawood replied: "This is definitely not in our agenda at all. Our agenda is basically limited to having a new draft constitution that everybody is satisfied about before going to a referendum."
He added, "We respect he was elected with 51.7 per cent of the vote, but 48 per cent did not vote for him. That means that he has to compromise, he has to build consensus."
The opposition has repeatedly said that the constitution, drafted by an Islamic constituent assembly, disregards the rights of women and ignores personal freedoms.
Saturday's announcement came hours after a Morsi-led 'national dialogue' to discuss the controversial referendum and ongoing protests. The ten-hour talks were boycotted by the country's primary political opposition groups, including leading anti-Morsi figure Mohamed ElBaradei.