Egypt's Prosecutor General Resigns
Egypt's prosecutor general, appointed to the job just last month by President Mohammed Morsi, on Monday gave into demands of lower prosecutors by agreeing to resign next week, CNN reported.
The protesters converged on the prosecuting general's office at the High Court Sunday, refusing to leave until Talaat Abdallah resigned, said the report.
The siege by the prosecutors ended Monday when Abdallah signed a resignation letter that was read to reporters. The letter will be delivered to Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council on December 23, the prosecutor's office said.
The prosecutors objected to Abdallah's appointment by Morsi because of his connection with the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement to which Morsi himself is also connected.
They became angry when Abdallah replaced attorney generals with judges affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, reported CNN, and the latest flare up happened last week when Abdallah transferred Attorney General Mostafa Khater, who had freed defendants arrested by Morsi supporters during clashes outside the presidential palace on December 5. Khater's transfer was reversed a day later.
Abdallah's resignation comes as tensions are high in Egypt over a referendum on a new constitution. Islamists backing the new constitution claimed victory on Sunday after the first day of the voting. Meanwhile, the opposition alleged that there were polling violations, saying it would "not recognize any unofficial result" and would wait for the formal tally after next Saturday's second round of voting.
AFP reported on Monday that Egypt's opposition called for mass protests on Tuesday over the alleged polling violations. A group of top judges, meanwhile, announced on Monday it would boycott supervision of the second round, and Germany said it has postponed debt relief for Egypt because of concerns over the country's commitment to democracy.
The key points of the controversial draft constitution are:
- Islam remains Egypt's official religion. The previous formulation that the "principles of sharia" are the main source of legislation is maintained.
However, these principles are broadened to include Sunni Muslim doctrinal interpretations.
- "Freedom of faith is guaranteed" -- but only for Islam, Christianity and Judaism, not for other religions.
- The president is limited to two consecutive four-year terms, not indefinitely as under Mubarak.
- The defense minister is chosen from within the military. Also, the military's budget will be decided by a committee dominated by military officers, effectively making it independent of civilian oversight.
- Civilians will not be tried in military courts except in cases where the "crimes may harm the armed forces." The opposition and rights groups demand that this vaguely defined exception be removed.
- The charter upholds "the equality of citizens under the law without discrimination," but omits an explicit mention of equality of the sexes.
- Freedom of expression is protected -- except when it comes to "insults against physical persons" or "insults towards the prophets." Some fear those exceptions open the door to censorship.
- The state is the designated protector of "public morals and order."
- It is forbidden for Egypt to sign international treaties and conventions that go against the constitution.