Since coming to power, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has faced numerous problems and restrictions in using his legal powers. This led him to issue a controversial decree recently, which was harshly criticized by a significant segment of the population, with many calling it a clear sign of Morsi’s lust for power.
However, the decree, which was annulled on Saturday, was more a tool to facilitate the prosecution of remnants of the former regime than a simple power grab. Morsi’s appointment of a new prosecutor general was a measure to exert more influence in the judiciary and also to prevent the Supreme Court from dissolving the democratically elected parliament. Thus, the decree was welcomed by the revolutionaries since it really helped the efforts to realize the objectives of the revolution.
Over the past few months, there has been great dissatisfaction, among both secular and religious Egyptians, about the performance of the judiciary. The verdicts issued by the court for former dictator Hosni Mubarak and his family are still regarded as completely unfair. Most of the army commanders who were accused of ordering the camel attack, in which a number of people were killed in Tahrir Square, were acquitted, and this frustrated the revolutionaries.
However, the opponents of Morsi’s decision had their own arguments. Morsi issued the decree days after his meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and this led to speculation that U.S. officials gave him the green light to make such a controversial decision. Others said that Morsi’s success in mediating between Hamas and Israel made his position more stable and this allowed him to issue the extra-constitutional decree. But neither of these views can be proven because Morsi’s opponents and the critics of his party, the Muslim Brotherhood, have been looking for an excuse to undermine his position since the day he was elected president, and the recent decree provided them a good opportunity.
Morsi’s decree was only issued to improve Egypt’s system of governance. Thus, there shouldn’t be any fear of a new dictatorship arising.
Seyyed Mohyeddin Sajedi is a Middle East expert at the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran.
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