Egyptian president calls for national dialogue meeting
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi invited political groups, judges and others to meet on Saturday for a national dialogue on a political road map after a referendum on a new constitution, which he signalled would go ahead as scheduled on December 15.
In a televised address, Mursi also said he was open to the idea of removing an article in a controversial decree that shielded his decisions from judicial review, saying that could happen if "dialogue led to that".
Mursi's November 22 decree and subsequent call for the referendum on the new constitution has infuriated opposition groups and led to lethal street violence between Mursi's supporters and opponents.
The main opposition alliance said it was assessing the offer of dialogue, though Mursi's proposals fell short of opposition demands for the cancellation of the decree and postponement of the referendum on a constitution drafted by an assembly dominated by Islamists.
"I call for a full, productive dialogue with all figures and heads of parties, revolutionary youth and senior legal figures to meet this Saturday," Mursi said in a televised address on Thursday, saying the meeting would be at his official palace.
As well as drawing up a road map, he said they would discuss the fate of the upper house of parliament after the lower house was dissolved in June, the election law and other issues. He said plans for the referendum on December 15 were on track.
While defending his decision to issue the November 22 decree, Mursi said the provision that protected his decisions from judicial oversight did not "prevent the judiciary from exercising its role or citizens from appealing against decisions and laws".
"However if this article worries anyone, I am not insisting on it remaining," he said. He added that only "sovereign actions" were protected from judicial review.
(Reporting by Cairo Bureau; Writing by Edmund Blair/Tom Perry)