President Morsi agrees to delay referendum: Egyptian PM

By IANS/RIA Novosti,

Cairo: Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has agreed to delay the referendum on a new draft constitution and make amendments to his constitutional declaration, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil said Saturday.

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“President Morsi and the country’s political forces are discussing legal ways to delay the referendum. The president does not object to a postponement of the vote,” Qandil said.

Morsi is meeting with leaders of several opposition political parties in his residence. The sides are discussing ways out of the current political crisis in the country as part of a national dialogue the president called for Thursday.

“The country’s political forces and the president, who gathered on Saturday to hold a national dialog, have agreed to establish a commission to amend the constitutional declaration,” Qandil said.

Morsi’s Nov 22 constitutional declaration expanded his executive authority by barring the courts from challenging his decisions.

The country’s highest judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council, earlier called Morsi’s move “an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings”.

Opposition groups have been rallying against the constitutional declaration and Morsi’s decision to hold a nationwide referendum on the new Constitution Dec 15, which they described as too hasty.

The postponement of the referendum is one of the Egyptian opposition’s key demands.