CAIRO Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi called a December 15 referendum on a draft constitution and urged a national dialogue on the "concerns of the nation" as the country nears the end of the transition from Hosni Mubarak's rule.
Mursi was speaking after receiving the final draft of the constitution from the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly.
"I am issuing my decision to call people for a referendum on the draft constitution on Saturday, December 15," Mursi said in an address to the constituent assembly that approved its final draft on Friday before handing it to Mursi.
Mursi hopes approval of a full constitution approved in a popular referendum will end a crisis over his assumption of sweeping powers by decree.
The Islamist president and his backers in the Muslim Brotherhood have faced a storm of criticism over the decision to accelerate approval of the new constitution. Most of the non-Islamists in the 100-member constituent assembly had withdrawn from the body, saying their voices were not being heard.
Mursi called for a comprehensive "national dialogue".
"I renew my call for opening a serious national dialogue over the concerns of the nation, with all honesty and impartiality, to end the transitional period as soon as possible, in a way that guarantees the newly-born democracy," he said.
(Reporting by Cairo Bureau; Editing by Ralph Gowling and Jason Webb)