Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Coptic presidential adviser, Samir Morcos, officially announced his resignation yesterday in protest to President Mursi’s controversial constitutional declaration which allows the president to assume sweeping powers, placing his decisions above legal challenge until a new parliament is elected. Morcos served less than three months as President Mohamed Mursi’s adviser on democratic transition. President Mursi’s surprise announcement on Thursday incurred widespread criticism from across Egypt and resulted in violent protests in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez on Friday. Speaking exclusively to Asharq Al-Awsat, the former presidential adviser stressed that “I refuse to remain [in my position] in light of this presidential decision that is crippling to the democratic transition process…and which is contrary to what I am trying to achieve through my position.”
Morcos stressed that he had accepted this position “in order to participate in the democratization process in Egypt, however what has happened, regarding President Mursi’s decision, represents a disregard of this process.” He also revealed that he was not consulted on this new constitutional declaration, which ultimately places control of the legislative, executive, constitutional and judicial authority in Mursi’s hands, adding that he only learnt of this when the decree was officially announced on television. Morcos asserted that this decision “violates all the democratic norms and traditions” as well as the special portfolio – democratic transition – that he was appointed to oversee.
The prominent Egyptian Copt revealed that he had presented President Mursi with his two-page resignation letter, in which he outlined the reasons for his decision and his objection to the president’s decisions. His resignation described this decision as being “discouraging for the democratic transition project in Egypt” adding “I cannot remain [in my position] in light of presidential decisions that are crippling to democratic transition, particularly with regards to retroactively granting Mursi immunity”. He added “this is not acceptable.”
He confirmed that this decision is final and that he will announce his position clearly regarding everything that is happening in the country after his resignation has officially been accepted.
Morcos was elected as one of the 100 members of the constitutional committee charged with drafting Egypt’s new constitution, however he later resigned from this committee over his objections to the manner in which it was formed, stressing that this committee was not balanced and did not reflect the genuine diversity of Egyptian society. He also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he had been pressured, from several sides, including by Egyptian President Mursi himself, to retract his resignation and return to the constitutional committee. However Morcos asserted his objection to the manner in which this committee had been formed as well as the ongoing conflict that is raging within it.
Morcos stressed that the constitutional draft being drawn up by this committee is unworthy of Egypt, dubbing it “the constitution of the majority.”
For its part, Egypt’s Supreme Judicial Council, the country’s highest judicial authority, also strongly rejected Mursi’s latest decree, describing it as an “unprecedented attack” on their authority. It added that work would be suspended in all courts and prosecution offices until the decree passed by the president earlier this week is reversed.
Whilst the liberal Constitution Party issued a statement saying “we are facing a historic moment in which we either complete our revolution or we abandon it to become prey for a group that has put its narrow party interests above the national interest.”
Protests continued on Saturday across Egypt, with demonstrators pitching tents in the middle of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, pledging to remain there until Mursi reverses his decision. Protest organizers said more than 20 different groups had joined a week-long sit-in against the Egyptian president’s reform, describing Mursi as the new “pharaoh.”
Defending his decision at a rally at Cairo’s presidential palace on Friday, Mursi said that he was taking these “exceptional measures” because “my people, nation and the revolution of Egypt are in danger.”
He said “I am for all Egyptians. I will not be biased against any son of Egypt” adding “ I am the guarantor of that and I will protect for my brothers in the opposition all their rights so they can exercise their role.”