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Morsi to meet judges over power grab

Egyptian president will meet with judges to ease a crisis over his seizure of new powers.

Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Picture: AFP

CAIRO - Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi will meet senior judges on Monday to try to ease a crisis over his seizure of new powers which has set off violent protests.

Egypt's stock market plunged on Sunday in its first day open since Morsi issued a decree late on Thursday temporarily widening his powers and shielding his decisions from judicial review, drawing accusations he was behaving like a new dictator.

More than 500 people have been injured in clashes between police and protesters worried Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood aims to dominate the post-Hosni Mubarak era after winning Egypt's first democratic parliamentary and presidential elections this year.

One Muslim Brotherhood member was killed and 60 people were hurt on Sunday in an attack on the main office of the Brotherhood in the Egyptian Nile Delta town of Damanhour, the website of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said.

Egypt's highest judicial authority hinted at compromise to avert a further escalation, though Morsi's opponents want nothing less than the complete cancellation of a decree they see as a danger to democracy.

The Supreme Judicial Council said Morsi's decree should apply only to "sovereign matters", suggesting it did not reject the declaration outright, and called on judges and prosecutors, some of whom began a strike on Sunday, to return to work.

Morsi's decree removes judicial review of decisions he takes until a new parliament is elected, expected early next year.

It also shields the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt's new constitution from a raft of legal challenges that have threatened it with dissolution, and offers the same protection to the Islamist-controlled upper house of parliament.

Morsi's new powers allowed him to sack the prosecutor general who took his job during the Mubarak era and is unpopular among reformists of all stripes.

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