Egypt President Morsi defends new powers amid ongoing protests

  • Thousands gathered in central Cairo on Saturday to protest Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and a new decree that grants him sweeping new powers.

    The protests continue a day after Morsi appealed to supporters in the capital to defend the new decree.

    He told them he was leading the country to "freedom and democracy" and was the guardian of stability.

    Morsi was peaking at a rally at the presidential palace as opponents gathered in Tahrir Square while offices of the president's party were attacked in several other cities.

    The decree states presidential decisions cannot be revoked by any authority and that no court can dissolve the constituent assembly, which is writing up a new constitution.

    The decree garnered immediate praise from Morsi's allies but raised fears among secular-minded Egyptians that the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies are seeking to dominate a post-revolution Egypt.

    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.