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Court out: Egypt's constitutional crisis deepens as judges shelve vital work

Court out: Egypt's constitutional crisis deepens as judges shelve vital work
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In Egypt, tensions between some of the country’s judiciary and the president took a turn for the worse when the highest court in the land was forced to shut up shop indefinitely.

Islamist supporters of President Mohamed Mursi set up camp outside the Supreme Constitutional Court the night before. The judges had planned to consider the legality of Egypt’s upper house, and the assembly that has drafted a new constitution.

But the cases were shelved. The Court said the demonstrators had prevented the judges reaching the building, and had exerted what it called “psychological and material” pressure.

The upper house and the constitutional assembly are both controlled by Islamists. Add to that last week’s decree by Mursi giving himself almost total presidential power, and a gulf is growing between the religious and the secular.

The country’s opposition alliance has called for protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt against what it calls the “illegitimate constitution”.

Our correspondent in Cairo Mohammed Shaikhibrahim reports: “As a sign of just how serious the current political confrontation is in Egypt, this is the first time since it was established in the early seventies that the Egyptian Constitutional Court has been unable to meet to deal with several of vital issues like resolving the Shura Council and the Constitutional Assembly.”