Egypt assembly backs draft constitution

  • Egypt's constituent assembly has approved a draft constitution while the judiciary threatens to dissolve it amidst an escalating power struggle with President Mohammed Morsi.

    The draft will now be sent to Morsi, who is due to call a referendum

    Senior judges have been embroiled in a bitter stalemate with the president after he granted himself extensive new powers.

    According to the decree issued last week, Morsi's decisions cannot be revoked by any authority, including the judiciary, until a new constitution has been ratified and fresh parliamentary elections held.

    It also stated that the courts could not dissolve the constituent assembly.

    The decree garnered immediate praise from Morsi's Islamist allies but raised fears among secular-minded Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood is seeking to dominate a post-revolution Egypt, triggering mass protests across the country.

    Opposition leader Mohammed El-Baradei has accused Morsi of behaving like a "new pharaoh".

    The constitution is vital to Egypt's transition to democracy. New parliamentary elections cannot be held until the document is completed and passed by a popular referendum.