- Middle East/North Africa
The controversial 22 November Constitutional Declaration "meets the requirements of the current period" and will expire as soon as a new constitution is approved through a popular referendum, said President Mohamed Morsy in his state TV interview aired on Thursday night.
The decree made all of Morsy's decisions immune from judicial oversight until the new constitution is ratified and a new Parliament is elected. Since Morsy issued the declaration last Thursday, it has sparked mass protests by opposition forces and a strike by judges across the nation.
Morsy had "sensed a danger to the nation" and had to conduct "a very careful surgery" to address the situation, the president told his interviewers.
If the final constitutional draft is rejected by voters in the referendum, then a new Constituent Assembly would be formed to write a new draft, Morsy said.
The president added that the constitutional declaration has popular support and political forces only oppose certain parts of the decree, rather than the entire document. Only his so-called "sovereign" decisions have judicial immunity, he claimed, such as decisions like calling for a constitutional referendum.
Judges should not be parties to political disputes, Morsy continued, although he expressed his appreciation for the judicial authorities. "Judges give rulings based on the constitution and the law. It is not their job to determine the constitutionality of a legislation," the president asserted, adding that he had only assumed legislative powers due to the absence of an elected Parliament.
Morsy said he removed former Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud in response to revolutionary demands, and the action could not have been delayed any longer.
Recent protests against the constitutional declaration are a "healthy phenomenon," Morsy opined, then went on to urge protesters to demonstrate peacefully and abstain from assaulting security forces or facilities.
Morsy also explained that the retrials of former regime figures implicated in the deaths of protesters in the 25 January revolution, as stipulated by the constitutional decree, are contingent on the discovery of new evidence.
"Evidence was not sufficient in previous trials," the president said, but added that no exceptional measures would be taken for the tribunals.