CAIRO Dec 17 Egypt's new public prosecutor,
appointed by President Mohamed Mursi last month, resigned on
Monday in a move welcomed by Mursi's opponents as a victory for
the independence of the judiciary.
Public Prosecutor Talaat Ibrahim stepped down after a furore
among judges who said Mursi's decision in November to sack the
former public prosecutor and appoint Ibrahim was an assault on
The former public prosecutor, Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, had
served for many years under former President Hosni Mubarak who
was ousted by a popular uprising in February 2011.
The main state newspaper Al-Ahram said Ibrahim's resignation
would be presented to the Supreme Judicial Council on Sunday. A
senior judge who had opposed his appointment urged other members
of the judiciary to suspend a strike launched in protest.
Many judges had voiced anger over a decree Mursi issued on
Nov. 22 expanding his powers and temporarily putting himself
above judicial review. The decree spurred nationwide protests
and deadly clashes between Mursi's supporters and opponents.
Mursi sacked Mahmoud the same day to try to appease
protesters demanding the retrial of officials they say were
involved in carrying out violence against them during last
Mursi had already tried to remove Mahmoud in October to calm
protesters furious about the acquittal of a number of senior
officials who had stood trial over the issue. The move kicked up
a storm of protest from judges who said the president had
exceeded his powers and was threatening their independence.
The judiciary, like Egyptian society at large, has been
split over the vote on a controversial constitution and the way
in which it was drafted, with many judges boycotting supervision
of the referendum which began on Saturday Nov. 15.
The Muslim Brotherhood's party, which propelled Mursi to
power in a June election, said its unofficial tally for the
first-round vote on the constitution showed 57 percent of voters
backed it, supporting liberal opposition arguments that many
felt the document too partisan.
The body that wrote the document faced a raft of legal
challenges. Critics say its popular legitimacy was further
called into doubt by the withdrawal of many of its non-Islamist
members, who complained their voices were not being heard.
The constitution is a crucial element in Egypt's transition
to democracy. New parliamentary elections will not be held until
the document is completed and passed by a popular referendum.
More than 1,300 members of the General Prosecution gathered
in front of Ibrahim's office on Monday demanding that he leave
When, hours later, Ibrahim announced he had resigned, the
protesters cheered and shouted "God is Great! Long live
justice!" and "Long live the independence of the judiciary!",
witnesses present at the protest said.
Khaled Mahgoub, a leading figure in Cairo's Judges Club who
was among the protesters said: "Now we ask all judges who had
suspended their work in protest at the president's decision to
hire a public prosecutor to return to return to their jobs, and
for the judges to all celebrate their victory and independence."
Earlier in the day, members of the State Council Judges'
Club had announced they would boycott the second round of the
referendum to be held on Saturday Dec. 22.
Leading opposition politician Mohamed ElBaradei wrote on
Twitter: "Gratitude goes to the members of the general
prosecution in their solid stance on legitimacy and independence
of the judiciary. Truth remains above power."