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Egypt judges strike to defy decrees

– Judges in Egypt’s top courts went on strike Wednesday to protest President Mohammed Morsi’s seizure of near absolute powers, while Islamists rushed to complete a new constitution, the issue at the heart of the dispute.

The Supreme Constitutional Court said in a statement that it will go ahead with plans to rule Sunday on whether to dissolve the assembly writing the new constitution, which is dominated by the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies.

Regardless of which way it goes, the decision would constitute a direct challenge to the decrees Morsi issued last week, which place him above oversight of any kind, including by the courts. Morsi has enraged pro-democracy activists who claim he is acting too much like the authoritarian leader he replaced.

Complicating matters, the constitutional panel was rushing to wrap up its work and some members said a final draft could be completed as early as today. This would allow the president to call for a nationwide referendum on the document even before the court convenes Sunday, circumventing its decision.