The Egyptian president’s top legal adviser says the country’s election commission has begun preparations for the referendum on a highly contentious draft constitution. Mohammed Gaballah said Monday that the commission, which is composed of senior judges, began meeting a day earlier to organize the Dec. 15 referendum. Gaballah claimed that judges will oversee the vote despite a strike by the judiciary to protest a set of decrees issued by President Mohammed Morsi that place him above judicial oversight. According to Egyptian law, judges must observe the voting at polling stations.
Morsi’s decrees also gave immunity to the Islamist-led constituent assembly, which hurriedly approved the draft charter last week despite an opposition boycott. The president’s decrees have split the nation, and plunged Egypt into a deepening political crisis.
Egypt’s highest court has joined a judicial rebellion against President Mohammed Morsi by declaring an open-ended strike on the day it was supposed to rule on the legitimacy of two key assemblies controlled by allies of the Islamist leader.
The strike announced Sunday by the Supreme Constitutional Court and opposition plans to march on the presidential palace on Tuesday take the country’s latest political crisis to a level not seen in the nearly two years of turmoil since Hosni Mubarak’s ouster in a popular uprising.