Monday, November 26, 2012

Egypt's Justice Minister emerges as mediator in decree dispute

Just after mediating a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, President of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi, claimed power beyond review of any court while drafting a new constitution, which was met with protests reminiscent of the Arab Spring that empowered him. Morsi defends his decree, insisting that it is merely temporary. Egypt's Justice Minister now looks to prevent escalating the battle between Egypt's new Islamist leaders and the institutions of its past secular government. Justice Minister, Ahmed Mekki, is an influential former leader of the movement for judicial independence. Mekki is focused on the scope of the President's decree, which opponents say could be a first step towards a new Islamist autocracy. Morsi doesn't want Mubarak-appointed judges interfering. Mekki is encouraging a much narrower edict, rather than asserting sweeping immunity from judicial review. Mekki already met with the high council overseeing Egyptian courts which was receptive to his proposed compromise. With each side mired in suspicion of the other, a deep mistrust must be overcome. The first attempt to form a constitutional assembly was annulled by judges, and the latest version has been plagued by complaints that Islamists are ignoring minority concerns. Today, Morsi is to meet Egypt's highest judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council, and it is reported the council has already hinted at compromise-- likely due to Mekki's mediation efforts. See news items at and