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Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has called on the military to "preserve security" during the runup to the controversial Dec. 15 constitutional referendum, as opposition critics dismiss his recent reversal of his immunity from oversight as a "nothing" gesture.
Agence France-Presse reports that Mr. Morsi instructed the military to cooperate fully with police "to preserve security and protect vital state institutions for a temporary period, up to the announce of the results from the referendum." The order also allows the military to arrest civilians.
The military has largely been neutral so far in Egypt's political crisis, though it deployed troops on Dec. 6 around the presidential palace to keep the peace amid ongoing opposition protests in the area. The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says the decree will raise fears that the military, which ruled Egypt for decades under former President Hosni Mubarak but was curtailed earlier this year by Morsi, is regaining some of that power.
The president's decree comes on the heels of his annulment of his Nov. 22 power grab, when he declared his power immune to any judicial or legislative review. That order, combined with the Muslim Brotherhood's rush to produce the constitution that will be put to a referendum on Dec. 15, spurred the widespread protests that have wracked Egypt since.