"This declaration is deemed necessary in order to hold accountable those responsible for the corruption as well as other crimes during the previous regime and the transitional period," the presidency said in a statement.
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The judiciary, which was the main target of Morsi's edicts, pushed back Saturday. The country's highest body of judges, the Supreme Judicial Council, called his decrees an "unprecedented assault." Courts in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria announced a work suspension until the decrees are lifted.
Facing a storm of protest from judges and political opponents who accuse Morsi of turning into a new dictator, the presidency said the decree was "not meant to concentrate powers", but to devolve them. It aimed to avoid the politicization of the judiciary, the statement said.
It also aimed to "abort any attempt" to dissolve either the body writing Egypt's constitution or the upper house of parliament, both of them dominated by Islamists allied to Morsi, the statement added. "The presidency stresses its firm commitment to engage all political forces in the inclusive democratic dialogue to reach a common ground and bridge the gap in order to reach a national consensus on the constitution," it added.
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 issued this week by President Mohammed Morsi.
The president granted himself sweeping powers to "protect the revolution" and made himself immune to judicial oversight.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in nationwide protests on Friday, sparking clashes between anti-and pro-Morsi crowds in several cities that left more than 200 people wounded.
On Saturday, new clashed broke out in the southern city of Assiut. Morsi opponents and members of the Muslim Brotherhood swung sticks and threw stones at each other outside the offices of the Brotherhood's political party, leaving at least seven injured.
Morsi opponents rally in Tahrir square (Photo: Reuters)
The Brotherhood warned in another statement that there were forces trying to overthrow the elected president in order to return to power. It said Morsi has a mandate to lead, having defeated one of Mubarak's former prime ministers this summer in a closely contested election.
Morsi's edicts also removed Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, the prosecutor general first appointed by Mubarak, who many Egyptians accused of not prosecuting former regime figures strongly enough.
"Morsi will have to reverse his decision to avoid the anger of the people," said Ahmed Badrawy, a labor ministry employee protesting at the courthouse. "We do not want to have an Iranian system here," he added, referring to fears that hardcore Islamists may try to turn Egypt into a theocracy.
Reuters and AP contributed to this report
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