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Egypt Stocks Sink Since Islamist President Instituted Controversial Power Decrees

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CAIRO (TheBlaze/AP) --  Just as  Nobel Peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei predicted Saturday that turmoil would increase if Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi didn't rescind his decrees giving himself near absolute powers, the nation's benchmark stock index has plunged 9.5 percent halfway through the first trading.

Sunday's losses on the Egyptian Exchange's EGX30 index are among the biggest since the turbulent days and weeks after the ouster of authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak last year.

Screenshot showing the EGX 30 index.

The fall follows the announcement Thursday by President Mohammed Morsi of a package of decrees that place him above any oversight, including judicial, and extend the same protection to two Islamist-dominated bodies: a panel drafting a new constitution and parliament's upper chamber.

n this Friday, Nov. 23, 2012 photo released by the Egyptian Presidency, President Mohammed Morsi, center right, waves to supporters outside the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt. Egypt's official news agency says that the country's highest body of judges has called the president's recent decrees an "unprecedented assault on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings." (Photo: AP/Egyptian Presidency)

Egyptian protesters gather outside the country's high court in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday. (Photo: AP/Mohammed Asad)

Morsi says his measures are designed to "protect the revolution," but they triggered an uproar among non-Islamist political groups now vowing to press on with street protests to force him to back down.

Egypt's liberal and secular forces - long divided, weakened and uncertain amid the rise of Islamist parties to power - are seeking to rally themselves in response to the decrees.

On Sunday, protesters clashed with police in Cairo's Tahrir square, birthplace of the uprising that toppled Mubarak, and in the side streets and avenues leading off the plaza. The Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the police, said a total of 267 protesters have been arrested and 164 policemen injured since the protest began a week ago, initially to mark the anniversary of street protests a year ago against the nation's then-military rulers. Forty-two protesters were killed in those demonstrations.

The ministry did not say how many of protesters were injured in the latest clashes, but they are thought to be in the dozens.

Several dozen protesters are staging a sit-in in Tahrir, vowing not to leave before Morsi rescinds his decrees. The two sides have called for rival massive protests on Tuesday at two Cairo locations less than a mile apart, raising the possibility of renewed clashes between supporters and opponents of Morsi.

In the latest sign of the unrest sweeping the country, suspected militants blew up a military installation under construction in the central Sinai Peninsula area of al-Qaseema early Sunday, wounding three workers, according to security officials speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

It was the second blast to target a military building in Sinai in as many days. On Saturday, another border guard structure under construction was blown up in Rafah, close to the Israeli border.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility in either attack, but authorities have been battling al-Qaida-inspired militants in Sinai who have stepped up attacks against Egyptian security forces, and even on occasion staged cross-border raids targeting Israelis.

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