(CAIRO) — In trying to tamp down the unrest that has engulfed his country for three weeks, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi may have thrown more fuel on the fire by giving his military the power to arrest and detain civilians ahead of the crucial referendum vote on Dec. 15.
In a statement Monday, Amnesty International said, “Considering the track record of the army while they were in charge, with more than 120 protesters killed and in excess of 12,000 civilians unfairly tried before military courts, this sets a dangerous precedent.”
Morsi’s decree is supposed to last until the results of the referendum are made public. There is talk that no matter what happens, the losing side won’t be pleased and the military might be employed anyway if public unrest gets out of hand once more.
The embattled Egyptian president tried to calm the waters somewhat last weekend when he partially rescinded his Nov. 22 edict that forbade any judicial oversight of his actions.
Still, opposition forces made up of liberals, human rights groups and supporters of former President Hosni Mubarak are threatening to possibly boycott the referendum on the constitution, which they allege will turn the nation into an Islamist state.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
David Williams, CNN
Ralph Ellis, Ben Wedeman and Michael Pearson, CNN