Egypt Judicial Council to oversee referendum

Judge says nation's Supreme Judicial Council has agreed to monitor December 15 vote on disputed draft constitution.

    Egypt Judicial Council to oversee referendum
    About 10,000 judges are needed to monitor the December 15 referendum [Reuters]

    Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council has agreed to oversee the referendum on a draft constitution proposed by Mohamed Morsi, the county's president.

    "The Supreme Judicial Council has met and agreed to delegate judges to oversee the constitutional referendum", Mohamed Gadallah, legal adviser to the Egyptian president, said on Monday.

    Judge Ahmed Abdul Rahman, a member of the council, also said the judiciary's top body has agreed to assign judges and proesecutors to oversee the vote.

    He went on to say no judge would be allowed to reject the assignment without an excuse acceptable to the council, the state-run al-Ahram daily reported.

    The announcement comes as other judges have begun an open-ended strike.Several local media outlets have also joined in the opposition against what they have called Morsi's "dictatorship".

    On Sunday, Ahmed al-Zend, head of the independent Judges Club, called for the nation's judges not to oversee the referendum, which may not be recognised without proper oversight.

    The Club criticised Morsi for interfering in the judiciary's work and violating its independence through a recent decree by which he makes his decisions immune to judicial review.

    Press protest

    The press has also joined in, in the criticism of the president, who just completed his first 100 days in office.

    Eleven independent and opposition party newspapers have declared they will not go to print on Tuesday.

    An editorial in the al-Shuruq daily led with the headline: "Beware -- fascism is coming".

    The executive editor-in-chief of the Al-Masry al-Youm newspaper explained why they would not go to print on Tuesday: "We took the decision of suspending the newspaper from printing tomorrow as an objection to the articles in the new Egyptian constitution that limit freedom of speech and also because the constitution does not have the approval of all Egyptian factions," Mohamed Samir said.

    Samir warned of 'disastrous' outcomes if neither side of the debate reached a compromise.

    "We expect a disastrous scenario if both sides stick to their position and continue to mobilise and rally supporter behind them and if the President's position remains stubborn."

    The opposition has called for civil disobedience on Tuesday that will be accompanied by street rallies by thousands of protesters to Morsi's presidential palace.

    Demands are centred on cancelling both Morsi's decree that placed him above judicial oversight and the draft constitution rushed through in a night session of the constituent assembly.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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