Mohamed Morsi has reignited the debate over presidential powers in post-revolution Egypt by issuing a new, temporary far-reaching decree.
"I, and the majority of the Egyptian people believe Morsi is really late in protecting the goals and the main objectives of the revolution. In fact, the first demand is to stablise the new system in Egypt. He succeeded in pushing the civilian rule and pushing the military out of the way and now, he is stabilising the system - the democracy .... I understand there is opposition and that is the new Egypt, the Egypt of democracy. Let us agree to disagree."
-Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, Freedom and Justice Party
The move has been hailed by his supporters as revolutionary yet his detractors consider him the leader of a coup.
Will his actions further divide Egyptian society? And is the Muslim Brotherhood tightening its grip on power?
Mohamed Morsi made history when he became president of Egypt. He is the first civilian to hold the post, and the first to get there by winning a contested election.
But is he now becoming another authoritarian leader? The opposition certainly thinks so.
Key opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei even described him on Twitter as the country's new pharaoh - a major blow, he said, that could have dire consequences for the revolution.
Protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo, and in Alexandria - some demonstrations turned violent after angry protesters set fire to a number of Muslim Brotherhood offices.
While some support the President's latest move, others gathered to voice their frustration about what they say is, in effect, a coup.
"I see nothing democratic about those decrees at all. He is turning himself into a dictator. Now he has a hold of all kinds of power in the country - the executive power, the legislative power and he has placed himself above the law and above the court system. What kind of democracy is that?"
- Gamal Soltan, American University in CAiro
Morsi's new decree gives him sweeping powers and bans all challenges to any decision he makes - in effect he can do whatever he wants.
Morsi also sacked Egypt's prosecutor general and ordered the retrial of those linked to the killings of protesters.
The president says he is just protecting the revolution - with the decree to remain in place only until a new parliament is elected, but opposition figures say he has put himself above the law.
This latest decree comes after a series of key events:
- During April's presidential campaign, he was called the "spare tyre" candidate because he entered the race only after Muslim Brotherhood's Khairat al-Shater was disqualified
- Despite that, two months later he went on to win the election and became Egypt's first civilian leader
- In August, he cemented his authority when he sacked army chief Field Marshall Mohamed Hussein Tantawi
- He also scrapped a key constitutional document which gave the military legislative powers and other prerogatives
- And most recently, his successful mediation in the Gaza crisis showed that Cairo was still a stabilising force in the region.
So, is Mohamed Morsi really protecting the revolution in Egypt?
Inside Story, with presenter Adrian Finigan, discusses with guests: Gamal Soltan, a professor of political science at the American University in Cairo; Sabry Hafez, a professor at Qatar University, he is also a part of the liberal movement in Egypt; and Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a leading member of the Freedom and Justice Party.
FACTS ABOUT THE NEW DECREE:
- President says new decree is aimed at 'cleansing state institutions'
- Decree allows president to appoint public prosecutor for a four-year term
- Morsi gave himself power to enact any law he wants
- Morsi's decree effectively sacks the current prosecutor general, which means no authority can revoke any presidential decisions
- Morsi has ordered the retrial of officials linked to killing of protesters
- Morsi's decree to remain in force until a new parliament is elected
- Parliament canmot be elected until a new constitution is in place
- Morsi also extended the timeline for drafting the new constitution
- Morsi says he has to have absolute power to protect the revolution
- Critics have compared Morsi 's move to Hosni Mubarak's autocratic ways and denounced the move as a 'coup against legitimacy'