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Mursi retracts powers decree

Egypt's president has scrapped a decree that gave him extra powers and ignited violent protests.

The retraction of President Mohamed Mursi's decree was announced after a national dialogue boycotted by almost all the president's opponents.

But opponents were still angry yesterday, saying he had deepened the conflict by pressing on with a vote on a constitution shaped by Islamists.

Mr Mursi and his Islamist group have insisted the referendum should go ahead on December 15 to seal a democratic transition that began 22 months ago with the ousting of Hosni Mubarak.

Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, a technocrat with Islamist leanings, said the referendum was the best test of opinion.

But opposition factions, uncertain of their ability to vote down the constitution against the Islamists' organisational muscle, want the document redrafted before any vote.

Ahmed Said, a liberal leader of the main opposition National Salvation Front, described the race to a referendum as an "act of war" against Egyptians.

Egypt tipped into turmoil after Mr Mursi grabbed powers to stop any court action to hinder the transition. An assembly led by Mr Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood then approved the constitution.

Liberals, leftists, Christians and others had already quit the assembly, saying their voices were ignored.

A leftist group led by defeated presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy demanded the referendum be deferred until a consensus was reached on a new draft, saying there could be "no dialogue while blood is being spilled in the streets".

But a Muslim Brotherhood spokesman said scrapping Mr Mursi's decree had removed any cause for controversy.

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