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Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi’s decision to award himself sweeping new powers has – once again – brought demonstrators out onto the streets of Cairo.

Two large groups gathered in Tahrir Square – for and against Mursi’s decree – once again showing the deep divisions that plague the country.

Egyptian opposition groups have denounced what they say is a de facto declaration of emergency law.

Sameh Ashour, head of the Lawyers’ Syndicate said:

“The crime that President Mohammed Mursi has committed under the name of the Constitutional Declaration, represents a full coup against the revolutionary legitimacy that brought him to power, and his action is a full takeover of all of the country’s authorities. This action makes him a even more of a dictator than (former leader Hosni) Mubarak.”

The decree states that no authority, including the judiciary, can revoke any presidential decision.

It also gives special protection to an assembly, dominated by Islamists, which is drawing up Egypt’s new constitution.

The ruling will also see retrials of several officials from the era of former president Hosni Mubarak.

The United Nations says the decree raises very serious concerns about human rights and the rule of law in Egypt.

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