Was Morsi Wrong to Grab Power?

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Yes and no. Issandr El Amrani explains:

The premise of the president's plan was sound. There was a need for him to get more involved in the constitutional debate and address some of the opposition's concerns (which had, among other things, asked for more time.) Several days of clashes in downtown Cairo had become an embarrassing reminder of the state of Egypt's transition and of the desire for justice for those who paid the ultimate price for overthrowing the Mubarak regime.

Dismissing the public prosecutor and preventing the dissolution of either the upper house of parliament or the constituent assembly were risky moves that would certainly face opposition, but mostly in terms of a face-off with judges - which was taking place anyway.

Where Mr Morsi overstepped is that he formally gave himself open-ended powers to make decrees that are immune from judicial oversight (therefore barring any legal recourse against them), giving himself licence to do pretty much anything else he pleases in the name of national security. He claims that this is a temporary measure to ensure that the country reaches its end goal - a new constitution and a new elected parliament - as quickly as possible. To achieve this, he is taking absolute power for three months or so, and promising to use it sparingly.

Were Mr Morsi a beloved national leader of the stature of a Nelson Mandela, he might have pulled it off. But he is the backup candidate of an organisation - the Muslim Brotherhood - mistrusted by many of his countrymen. He was elected (narrowly) by a coalition brought together by the fact that his opponent was worse. And he made this decision at a time of unprecedented polarisation - over the constitution and religion's role within it, over the performance of the cabinet, and indeed over the poor excuse for a transitional framework to democracy that the country inherited from 16 months of disastrous military rule. Mr Morsi's political capital is simply not as plentiful as he seems to believe, as the furious reaction by opposition leaders and protesters on Friday showed.

Similarly, Nathan Brown wonders if we're possibly witnessing Morsi's "metamorphasis into an Egyptian Cincinnatus."

TBD, I suppose.

(AP Photo)

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