Egyptian opposition united in anger over Morsy's new powers
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:46 PM EST, Fri November 23, 2012
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy waves to supporters in front of the presidential palace in Cairo on Friday, November 23. Thousands of ecstatic supporters gathered outside the presidential palace to defend their leader against accusations from rival protesters that he has become a dictator.
Egyptians protest over presidential powers
NEW: Mohamed ElBaradei says Morsy now has more power than Mubarak ever had
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President Morsy says his actions are aimed at fostering "political and social stability"
Cairo (CNN) -- Nearly two years after popular unrest spurred former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's fall, throngs have taken to Egypt's streets again to call for revolution, this time for the ouster of his successor.
Tents dotted Cairo's Tahrir Square, just as they did during the 2011 uprising, and clashes between protesters and police were reported Friday in the capital, the port city of Alexandria and elsewhere around the North African nation. Opposition leaders say they are firm in their resolve and, in Cairo's landmark square at least, scores could be seen milling about overnight and into Saturday morning.
The focus of their anger: President Mohamed Morsy. On Thursday, he announced that courts could not overturn any decree or law he has issued since taking office in June and, beyond that, in the six months until a new constitution is finalized, his spokesman said on state-run TV. He also fired Egypt's general prosecutor, who has been criticized for the insufficient prosecutions of those suspected in demonstrators' deaths in 2011.
In a country already without a parliament, that means the former Muslim Brotherhood leader seems to have total executive, legislative and now judicial authority, all as a new constitution is being written.
Clashes and anguish near Tahrir Square
Protests and clashes erupt in Egypt
Air thick with tear gas in Tahrir Square
Egypt's Morsy grants himself more power
"It's unprecedented, it's unimaginable, it's more (power) than Mr. Mubarak ever had," Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel laureate and head of Egypt's Constitution Party, told CNN. "This is the language of a dictator."
ElBaradei, a one-time head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, estimated there were "millions in the street ... revolting" Friday. Urging "civil disobedience," he and others who unsuccessfully ran for president signaled that they were unified in their opposition to Morsy.
"Endorsing the position of ElBaradei, (former Arab League chief) Amr Moussa and others, I urge all who voted for me to stand with us against the tyranny of the regime," wrote Ahmed Shafik, a former prime minister who received 48% of the vote in this year's presidential run-off, on Twitter.
Despite such opposition, Morsy was defiant and insistent Friday that his actions are in the interests of the Egyptian people.
"I have dedicated myself and my life for democracy and freedom," he told hundreds of supporters outside the presidential palace in Cairo. "The steps I took are meant to achieve political and social stability."
The chair of Egypt's Cabinet, Mohamed Refaa al-Tahtawi, brushed back criticisms that Morsy had made an undemocratic power grab, saying the opposite is true and that Morsy "is not really trying to monopolize power."
"He is trying to have strong pillars for a steady progress toward democracy," al-Tahtawi said. "A dictator would not try to have an elected parliament as soon as possible."
The Cabinet chief added, "I assure you that in the coming days, the opposition will fade away and calm down."