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Egyptian minister says end of crisis 'imminent’

By The Associated Press

This article was published November 26, 2012 at 8:08 a.m.

egyptian-security-forces-background-clash-with-protesters-near-tahrir-square-in-cairo-on-sunday-nov-25-2012

Egyptian security forces, background, clash with protesters near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012.

Egypt’s justice minister said Monday that a resolution was “imminent” to the political crisis over President Mohammed Morsi’s decision to grant himself sweeping new powers, a move that has touched off days of violent street protests.

Ahmed Mekki spoke to reporters shortly before Morsi was due to meet members of the Supreme Judiciary Council to discuss the decrees the Islamist president announced last week that put him above any kind of oversight, including that of the courts.

The judiciary council is in charge of the courts.

Mekki has been mediating between the judiciary and the presidency to defuse the crisis, although he did not say on what he based his prediction for its impending resolution.

Opposition activists have denounced Morsi’s decrees as a blatant power grab, and refused to enter a dialogue with the presidency before the edicts are rescinded. The president has vigorously defended the new powers, saying they are necessary to implement badly needed reforms and protect Egypt’s transition to democracy.

The dispute, the latest in the country’s bumpy transition to democracy, has also taken a toll on the nation’s already ailing economy — Egypt’s benchmark stock index dropped more than 9.5 percentage points Sunday, the first day of trading since Morsi issued his decrees. It fell by nearly 2 percentage points Monday.

The crisis has also played out in street protests in cities across the country, including the capital Cairo and the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.

The Health Ministry said Monday that a total of 444 people have been wounded nationwide since the clashes erupted on Friday. Forty-nine of these remain hospitalized, said the ministry in a statement carried by Egypt’s official MENA news agency.

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