Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi assumed sweeping powers on Thursday, putting him on a collision course with the judiciary and raising questions about the country's democratic future.No surprise for two reasons. First, Islamic culture is inherently autocratic. Second, Obama seems to like Morsi, and, well, we all know how much Obama likes dictators....
The move, just a day after Morsi took diplomatic centerstage in brokering a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza's Islamist Hamas rulers, earned him the same derisive monicker of "new pharaoh" leveled at veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak before his ouster in a popular uprising last year.
"The president can issue any decision or measure to protect the revolution," according to a decree read out on television by presidential spokesman Yasser Ali.
"The constitutional declarations, decisions and laws issued by the president are final and not subject to appeal."
The move is a blow to the pro-democracy movement that toppled Mubarak last year, and raises concerns that Islamists will be further ensconced in power.
Nobel laureate and former U.N. atomic energy agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei lashed out at the declaration, which effectively puts the president above judicial oversight.
"Morsi today usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences," ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account.
Morsi also sacked prosecutor general Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, whom he failed to oust last month, appointing Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah to replace him, amid strong misgivings among the president's supporters about the failure to secure convictions of more members of the old regime.
Within minutes of the announcement, the new prosecutor was shown on television being sworn in.
(H/t Weasel Zippers)