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Egypt's Morsi backs off decree, but fails to assuage protesters (+video)

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Opposition members had previously criticized the referendum because a "no" vote would leave Morsi with sweeping powers. The new document canceled Morsi's previous decree making his own actions immune from judicial review, granting himself wide powers to "protect the revolution," and protecting the constituent assembly from dissolution by the judiciary. But it does say that constitutional decrees such as this one are immune to judicial challenges.

Fresh protests planned

Protesters prepared to march to the presidential palace today to voice their rejection of the president's new move. The streets around the palace turned into a battle zone this week when the president's supporters attacked the protesters who had gathered there. Seven people were killed in the street clashes. 

Morsi's determination to put the constitution to a vote shows his confidence that the majority of Egyptians will accept it, despite the large and widespread protests over recent weeks, including attacks on Muslim Brotherhood offices. The Brotherhood, of which the president was a leader before he ran for president, has an extensive grass-roots network that makes it extremely effective at election mobilization. Analysts say he's also counting on the fact that many Egyptians are weary of protests after nearly two years of instability.

Though opposition groups have united in the face of Morsi's recent actions, virtually none have started on-the-ground campaigning for a vote against the constitution, preferring instead to spend their efforts protesting and demanding a delay in the referendum. That leaves them with less than a week to mobilize voters against the constitution, if they decide to do so. 

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