Less than two years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak there is growing fear this week that newly elected President Mohamed Morsi is headed towards an autocratic rule. This comes after a sweeping decree by Morsi to take on new and far-reaching powers.
Party officials say he's taking on the powers to ensure the process of writing the constitution is upheld, but opponents maintain he's morphing himself into a dictator, just like his predecessor.
Morsi meets with the country's Supreme Judicial Council today, where judges will try to convince the president to limit his powers.
Noel King, a freelance reporter in Cairo, says that "Egypt's secular left has been waiting in the wings since Morsi was appointed to the presidency." She says, "They've been waiting for him to mess up. And the reason for that is, they are credited with sparking the Egyptian revolution, but they gained almost no political power from it, because they were divided by back-stabbing and in-fighting." Protests are already well underway, and massive demonstrations have been planned to take place in Tahrir Square. These protests will go ahead if Morsi does not revoke the decree in its entirety — something he is not expected to do.
Omar Khalifa runs Egypt’s Omedia, and he has a somewhat cynical view of Morsi's decision and of the Muslim Brotherhood in general. "At the end of the day," he says, "They are part of Hamas."
P.J. Crowley is a former Department of State spokesperson and is now a professor at George Washington University, and he is a bit more optimistic about the situation in Egypt. "I think this is something that we probably should have anticipated — should anticipate — not just in Egypt," he says. "This is an institutional struggle between an executive with uncertain powers, and a judiciary that's dominated by holdovers of the Mubarak regime. We should anticipate that as they go forward towards something that resembles democracy or representative government that there are going to be steps forward and steps backward."