* Prosecutor says he had quit under duress
* Opposition pledges to fight on against constitution
* Islamists to stage rally on Friday
* Second day of voting takes place on Saturday
* Measure expected to pass after first-round "yes" vote
By Tamim Elyan and Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO, Dec 20 Egypt's chief public prosecutor,
forced to quit this week after opposition protests, retracted
his resignation on Thursday, setting the stage for more turmoil
as the nation votes in a referendum on its political future.
Prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim, appointed by President Mohamed
Mursi when he assumed sweeping new powers last month, said he
had changed his mind because his resignation on Monday had been
offered under duress.
Ibrahim had quit after more than 1,000 members of his staff
gathered at his office in Cairo to demand that he step down.
Mursi's decision to appoint Ibrahim, instead of leaving the
appointment to judicial authorities, threatened the independence
of the judiciary, the angered prosecutors said.
Ibrahim described his removal from office as "mysterious and
abnormal" and said it was now up to the justice minister to
decide on his future, according to the state-run al-Ahram news
Several prosecutors immediately announced they were
suspending work and would stage an open-ended protest outside
Ibrahim's about-face came 48 hours before Egyptians vote in
a referendum on a divisive new constitution championed by Mursi
as a vital step in Egypt's transition to democracy almost two
years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak.
The opposition, facing defeat over the constitution, urged
voters to reject the Islamist-backed charter and pledged to
fight on to amend it during elections expected next year.
OPPOSITION URGES 'NO' VOTE
The opposition, a coalition of liberals, leftists,
Christians and secular Muslims, called for a "no" vote against a
document it views as leaning too far towards Islamism.
The first day of voting on Dec. 15 resulted in a 57 percent
majority in favour of the constitution. The second stage on
Saturday is expected to produce another "yes" vote as it covers
regions seen as more conservative and likely to back Mursi.
The National Salvation Front, the main opposition coalition,
said a "no" vote meant taking a stand against attempts by the
Muslim Brotherhood, Mursi's political base, to dominate Egypt.
"For the sake of the future, the masses of our people should
strongly and firmly say 'no' to injustice and 'no' to the
Brotherhood's dominance," the Front said in a statement.
A senior Front member, Abdel Ghaffar Shokr, head of the
Popular Socialist Coalition Party, said that if the constitution
was approved, the opposition would go on fighting to change it.
"That's why we will participate in the legislative election
because it is the only way to amend the constitution," he said.
The constitution must be in place before elections can be
held. If it passes, the poll should be held within two months.
In an attempt to mobilise voters, the opposition said it
planned to hold public meetings, distribute flyers and send cars
equipped with loudspeakers through the streets.
A street protest against the constitution in Cairo this week
attracted only a few hundred people, well down on the numbers
drawn to previous such events.
Islamist groups are planning a mass protest in Alexandria on
Friday, a move likely to raise tensions a day before the vote.
The Muslim Brotherhood called for the rally after a violent
confrontation between Islamists and the opposition in Egypt's
second city last week that ended with a Muslim preacher besieged
inside his mosque for 14 hours.
The run-up to the referendum has been marked by often
violent protests in which at least eight people have died.
Mursi and his backers say the constitution is needed to
advance Egypt's transition from decades of military-backed
autocratic rule. Opponents say it is too Islamist and ignores
the rights of women and of minorities, including 10 percent of
Egyptians who are Christian.
Demonstrations erupted when Mursi awarded himself
extraordinary powers on Nov. 22 and then fast-tracked the
constitution through a drafting assembly dominated by his
Islamist allies and boycotted by many liberals.
The referendum is being held over two days because many of
the judges needed to oversee polling stayed away in protest.
Judicial authorities on Thursday named the judges who will
supervise polling stations on Saturday. The opposition cited a
lack of judges at some polling stations in a list of alleged
irregularities in the first round.
In order to pass, the constitution must be approved by more
than 50 percent of those voting.