x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Morsi gives police powers to Egyptian army for referendum

President Mohamed Morsi has ordered Egypt's army to "cooperate" with police from today, giving it powers of arrest until the results of a referendum to be held this weekend, according to a decree.

CAIRO // President Mohammed Morsi has ordered Egypt's army to "cooperate" with police from today, giving it powers of arrest until the results of a referendum to be held this weekend, according to a decree obtained by AFP.

The decree, which appears in the government's latest official gazette under "Law 107", was issued ahead of rival mass protests tomorrow called by pro and anti-Morsi camps over the referendum.

"The armed forces must support the police service in complete cooperation to preserve security and protect vital state institutions for a temporary period, up to the announcement of the results from the referendum on the constitution," the decree states.

"Armed forces officers participating in missions to preserve security and protect vital state institutions ... all have powers of legal arrest."

The measure follows weeks of protests and violent street clashes that have left seven people dead and hundreds injured.

The military, which ruled Egypt between the ouster of former president Hosni Mubarak in February 2011 and the election of Morsi in June this year, has sought to remain neutral in the political crisis.

It has urged both sides to hold dialogue and warned it "will not allow" the situation to deteriorate.

Army tanks and troops have since Thursday deployed around Mr Morsi's presidential palace but they have not confronted thousands of protesters who have gathered there every night.