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Egypt

Top prosecutor quits, weeks after Morsi appointed him

Egypt's public prosecutor, Talaat Ibrahim, has resigned his post amid pressure from within the judiciary; they argued that his appointment by President Mohammed Morsi put the courts' independence at risk.

Talaat Ibrahim (left in top image) offered his resignation as Egypt's top prosecutor on Monday, less than a month after Morsi appointed him to the post.

One part of Morsi's controversial November decrees, criticized especially within the Egyptian courts, was the appointment of Ibrahim as public prosecutor in place of Abdel Maguid Mahmoud. Mahmoud had held the post for years, also under the tenure of former President Hosni Mubarak - Morsi said he sacked the prosecutor owing to his connections to the prior government. The move prompted protests, however, from within the courts.

Public prosecutors staged a sit-in outside Ibrahim's office on Monday, demanding that he step down. They argued Morsi's appointment of the prosecutor was inappropriate, saying that the Supreme Judicial Council should have taken the decision.

State newspaper "Al-Ahram" reported that Ibrahim's resignation would be submitted to the Supreme Judicial Council on Sunday.

Broader dispute on constitution and courts

Discord within the courts has slowed the voting process as Egypt holds a referendum on a new potential constitution. Several judges have boycotted the vote, refusing to play their role as supervisors of the ballot, meaning that the referendum has been split into two days of voting for logistical reasons. The first round took place on December 15, with the second following on Saturday, December 22.

The political wing of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood said on Monday that its unofficial tallies pointed to 57 percent public support for the draft document in the first round of voting.

An opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, called on its supporters to "take to the streets on Tuesday to defend their freedoms, prevent fraud and reject the draft constitution," in a statement. Egypt, and particularly Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, has been host to a string of demonstrations and counter demonstrations either opposing or supporting the proposed document.

Forming a new constitution was a key milestone in Egypt's roadmap towards democracy after Mubarak's ouster. Agreeing on a new document is currently a pre-condition for permanent parliamentary elections - with Egypt's current assembly conceived as an interim parliament that was charged with organizing presidential elections and a constitution.

msh/jr (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)