Just as it seemed that striking judges would not monitor voting in the coming referendum on the Egyptian constitution on Dec. 15, the Supreme Judicial Council announced that it would delegate judges to oversee the referendum.
Events are changing so quickly in Egypt that is hard to keep up to date. Just as it seemed that judges would not agree to monitor the upcoming referendum on the draft constitution, the Supreme Judicial Council has agreed to delegate judges to do just that. This will provide legitimacy to the process and is a huge blow to opponents of President Mohamed Morsi.
It is a blow, too, to the judges who want to see Morsi's decree that he can make decisions with no judicial oversight overturned. Many judges had said that they would not monitor the voting. The Judges Club, which represents judges throughout Egypt, announced that it would not agree to monitor the referendum on the new constitution.
The Judicial Council's decision follows upon a decision by the Supreme Constitutional Court to suspend operations indefinitely after the judges were blocked from entering the court by pro-Morsi supporters. This action also indirectly helped Morsi since the court did not rule on the legitimacy of the Islamic-dominated constitutional assembly that drafted the constitution. Now that the Judicial Council has agreed to provide judges to oversee the referendum on Dec. 15, Morsi's opponents have suffered another blow.
In all of these developments, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that holds much political power behind the scenes has been completely quiet as far as I can tell. Why? Are there behind-the-scenes deals being worked out between the army, the judges and the president?
Some 10,000 judges will be needed to monitor the vote. Perhaps there will be problems finding enough judges who are willing to perform the task. The legal adviser to Morsi told Reuters: “The Supreme Judicial Council has met and agreed to delegate judges to oversee the constitutional referendum.” Judge Ahmed Abdul Rahman, a member of the council, said that no judge would be allowed to reject the assignment without an excuse acceptable to the council. The council obviously anticipates problems drafting judges for the job.
Opposition groups plan further protests in Tahrir Square on Tuesday. Newspapers have come out against Morsi's moves. The daily al-Shuruq said in an editorial: "Beware—fascism is coming. When Islamist protesters surround the SCC headquarters and prevent judges from entering, know that the seeds of a fascist state have been sown."