Egypt's Islamist president has given the army temporary power to arrest civilians to help secure a constitutional referendum seen by the Muslim Brotherhood as a triumph for democracy and by its liberal foes as a religious straitjacket.
President Mohamed Morsi, bruised by the political uproar in which protesters have besieged his graffiti-besmirched palace to demand his downfall, has rescinded a November 22 decree giving him wide powers, but has not budged on the referendum date.
A decree issued by Morsi late on Sunday means the armed forces can arrest civilians and refer them to prosecutors until the results of the referendum are announced. Despite its limited nature, the edict will revive memories of Hosni Mubarak's emergency law, also introduced as a temporary expedient, under which military or state security courts tried thousands of political dissidents and Islamist militants.
A cabinet source said ministers had reviewed the decree last week, saying troops had secured elections during a military-run transition after Mubarak but, with a civilian president in charge, now needed a decree to allow them to play that role.
Protests and violence have racked Egypt since Morsi decreed himself extraordinary powers he said were needed to speed up a troubled transition since Mubarak's fall 22 months ago...
Islamists and their opponents are planning rival rallies in different parts of Cairo before the vote set for Saturday.
Rejecting the referendum, opposition groups have called for mass protests on Tuesday, saying Morsi's eagerness to push the constitution through could lead to "violent confrontation".
Islamists have urged their followers to turn out "in millions" the same day in a show of support for the president and for a referendum they feel sure of winning with their loyal base and perhaps with the votes of Egyptians weary of turmoil.
The opposition National Salvation Front, led by liberals such as Mohamed ElBaradei and Amr Moussa, as well as leftist firebrand Hamdeen Sabahy, has yet to call directly for a boycott of the referendum or to urge their supporters to vote "no".
Instead it is contesting the legitimacy of the vote and of the whole process by which the constitution was drafted in an Islamist-led assembly from which their representatives withdrew.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 12/10/2012
Editor's Note: But let's make sure to provide this nation with US taxpayer financed F-16s...brilliant...
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