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Egypt

Egyptian panel poised to finish constitution amid unrest

Government officials have announced that Egypt’s new constitution is nearly finished and will soon be ready for a vote. Meanwhile, protests against President Morsi’s controversial decrees continue throughout the country.

Anti-Mursi protesters chant anti-government slogans at Tahrir Square in Cairo November 27, 2012. Opponents of President Mohamed Mursi clashed with Egyptian police on Tuesday as thousands of protesters stepped up pressure on the Islamist to scrap a decree they say threatens the nation with a new era of autocracy. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany (EGYPT - Tags: CIVIL UNREST POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

Proteste in Kairo Ägypten

The text of Egypt's new constitution was set to be completed later on Wednesday, the drafting committee said, with the document to be put to a subsequent vote.

"The discussions over the draft of the constitution will be finished today, to be followed by voting," Ahmed Darrag, the secretary general of the constituent assembly said in remarks carried by the official MENA news agency.

The move came as anger was mounting against President Mohamed Morsi for granting himself sweeping new powers last week. The new measures have banned any judicial review of presidential decrees and have also barred courts from dissolving Egypt's majority Islamist constitutional assembly, which is writing the new constitution.

Numerous secular-minded representatives withdrew from the assembly in recent weeks, claiming that Islamists were having the final say in drafting the constitution.

A senior official on the panel said that a vote by its members is likely to take place on Thursday before it is presented to Morsi.

Protests in Tahrir

New clashes erupted between police and protesters after a lull of a few hours in Tahrir Square on Wednesday, where tens of thousands have been camping since Morsi signed a new set of controversial decrees last week.

Security forces fired tear gas at the stone-throwing protesters in scenes reminiscent of the popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak almost two years ago.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood and hardline Salafist parties announced Wednesday that they will hold protests across Egypt in support of President Morsi on Saturday.

The Brotherhood, Egypt's most popular Islamist group, had previously cancelled a big pro-Morsi rally last Tuesday because of fears of potential violence between the president's supporters and opponents.

At least 260 people have been injured since Tuesday in clashes between Morsi's opponents and backers in several areas of Egypt, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.

hc/ipj (Reuters, AFP, dpa)