CAIRO - Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi defended on Sunday, November 25, a decree giving him sweeping powers, calling for talks with political powers to resolve the current turmoil in the heavyweight Arab country.
"This declaration is deemed necessary in order to hold accountable those responsible for the corruption as well as other crimes during the previous regime and the transitional period," the Egyptian presidency said in a statement cited by Reuters.
Protests gripped Egypt in the past days after Morsi issued a decree giving him sweeping powers.
The new decree shields decisions issued by Morsi from judicial review.
Morsi defend his decree as an effort to speed up reforms that will complete Egypt's democratic transformation.
But the decree has triggered violent protests in Egypt, which left at least 500 injured since Friday.
Judges and political opponents have accused Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, of seeking to obtain dictatorial powers.
But the presidency dismissed the accusations, saying the decree was "not meant to concentrate powers", but to devolve them.
It aimed to avoid the politicization of the judiciary, the statement said.
It also aimed to "abort any attempt" to dissolve either the body writing Egypt's constitution or the upper house of parliament, the statement added.
Many of Morsi's political opponents share the view that Egypt's judiciary needs reform. But they see the decree as a threat to the country's nascent democracy.
The Egyptian presidency also called for dialogue with political powers to resolve the crisis.
"The presidency stresses its firm commitment to engage all political forces in the inclusive democratic dialogue to reach a common ground and bridge the gap in order to reach a national consensus on the constitution," it said.
State media reported that President Morsi met for a second day with his advisers to discuss the crisis.
Activists opposed to the Morsi decree were camped out in central Cairo for a third consecutive day.
Opponents have rejected any dialogue with Morsi without rescinding the decree.
"There is no room for dialogue when a dictator imposes the most oppressive, abhorrent measures and then says 'let us split the difference'," prominent opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei said.
"I am waiting to see, I hope soon, a very strong statement of condemnation by the US, by Europe and by everybody who really cares about human dignity," he said in an interview with Reuters and the Associated Press.
Supporters of the Egyptian leader, meanwhile, have called for rallies nationwide to support his decree.
"I am really afraid that the two camps are paving the way for violence," Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University, told Reuters.Morsi has misjudged this, very much so. But forcing him again to relinquish what he has done will appear a defeat."