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Egypt lawyer challenges Morsi declaration

A lawyer in Egypt filed an appeal on Tuesday challenging a declaration by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], granting himself as president complete legislative and executive power. The appeal was filed in a Cairo court [ANSA report] by lawyer Mohamed Salem. Morsi's declaration, which was made on Sunday, effectively abolished a June declaration [JURIST reports] by Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder] that reserved certain powers for the military. The decree granted Morsi the power to establish public policy and sign international treaties. It also allows him to create a new legislature to draft a constitution if the current legislature fails to do so. In addition to granting himself more extensive powers, Morsi also made several other sweeping decisions on Sunday, including retiring several leaders of the Egyptian military and appointing a new vice president [El Ahram report].

Last month Morsi ordered the release [JURIST report] of 572 people convicted in tribunals by the Egyptian military. Earlier in July, a few days after he was sworn in, Morsi issued a decree [JURIST reports] calling the dissolved Egyptian parliament back into session, despite a previous ruling by the country's Supreme Constitutional Court [official website] dissolving it due to its finding that one-third of its members were elected illegally [JURIST report]. The court suspended Morsi's decree two days later, after which Morsi vowed that he would respect the ruling [JURIST reports]. A court struck down [JURIST report] a government decree in June that restored broad arrest powers to Egyptian military officials. Days before its dissolution, the Egyptian parliament elected a new constitutional council after lawmakers finally reached an agreement [JURIST reports] on the political composition of the council. In April the country's Administrative Court effectively suspended [JURIST report] the work of the 100-member council responsible for drafting the country's new constitution after ruling in favor of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the formation of the panel.

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