By Tamim Elyan
CAIRO Aug 14 An Egyptian court is to hear the
first legal challenge to a decree issued by Islamist President
Mohamed Mursi that removed curbs on his powers imposed by the
The challenge was filed in Egypt's administrative court by
Mohamed Salem, a lawyer who has already tried to have Mursi's
children, two of whom hold Egyptian and U.S. passports, stripped
of their Egyptian nationality.
"He (Mursi) wants to bring back the totalitarian regime and
create a new dictator, but from the Brotherhood," Salem told
Reuters on Tuesday. "He was sworn in based on the constitutional
The military leadership that took control of Egypt after the
overthrow of autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak issued its
constitutional declaration in June, before Mursi won the first
presidential election since Mubarak's departure.
The declaration reined in the presidency's powers, including
giving the army legislative power in the absence of parliament.
The generals dissolved parliament on the basis of a court order.
Mursi's counter-decree, issued on Sunday, handed him as
president the lawmaking powers taken by the army and, in
principle, control over army affairs. He also stripped the
military leadership of its right to choose a new body to rewrite
the constitution if the existing constituent assembly fails in
The courts have proved a crucial battleground in Egypt's
transition to democracy and on several occasions have determined
the path of political feuds between elected Islamists and the
military, which ruled Egypt for 60 years.
Mursi was the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate for the
More legal challenges to Mursi's latest decree could emerge.
A member of the Supreme Constitutional Court has already
questioned the legality of his decision. That court overruled an
earlier bid by Mursi to reinstate the Islamist-led parliament.
Mursi announced his decision to scrap the constitutional
declaration on Sunday and at the same time sent the most senior
generals into retirement, replacing them with younger officers.
Islamists and even some of Mursi's liberal rivals praised
the decision as a step towards pushing back the military and
establishing civilian rule. But some critics accused him of
trying to monopolise power.
A date for the court's first session has yet to be