The head of Egypt’s Judges Club, which represents judges across the country, has said his members will not supervise a referendum on a draft constitution, amid a tense standoff between the president and the judiciary.
“It has been agreed by all the judges of Egypt and the Judges Clubs outside the capital not to supervise a referendum on the draft constitution and to boycott it,” Ahmed al-Zind said in a statement carried by the official MENA news agency.
Earlier on Sunday, Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court shelved its work indefinitely after protests by President Mohamed Morsi’s supporters outside its headquarters prevented judges from meeting.
The judges were scheduled to rule on whether to dissolve the upper house of parliament and the constituent assembly which passed the draft constitution. Several top lawyers have also been dismissed.
“The court registers its deep regret and pain at the methods of psychological assassination of its judges,” the court said in a statement.
The top court had earlier announced it had postponed its ruling, blaming pressure from pro-government supporters. It is not known whether a new date has been set for the ruling.
Any ruling from the court would be a direct challenge to Morsi – who last month gave himself near absolute powers, placing himself and the assembly above any oversight, including by the judiciary.
After receiving a copy of the document, Morsi had announced on Thursday that a referendum on the draft constitution would be held on December 15.
Anti-Morsi protesters continued to occupy Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Sunday.
Morsi called for the vote in a speech on Saturday night before members of the constituent assembly, the 100-member panel that drafted the controversial document.
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The president is accused by his detractors of usurping sweeping powers and pushing the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which he used to be a member, in drawing up the draft constitution.
The secular opposition has promised a civil disobedience campaign against the vote.
Al Jazeera’s Rawya Rageh, reporting from Cairo, said that the constituent assembly was “immunised by this presidential decree”.
“But remember the constituent assembly itself rushed through the vote on the draft constitution in a marathon session that lasted for 17 hours, and effectively it becomes dissolved after they put forward this draft constitution,” she said.