Cairo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Taking advantage of the chaos connected with the upcoming constitutional referendum, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi took control of Egypt's central bank. In a single act, he reduced the number of members of the bank's governing board from 14 to six. At the same time, he has unilaterally assumed the power to appoint the bank's governor and its two deputy governors. Meanwhile, about 100 protesters broke through the barricade set up around the presidential palace, but were pushed back by soldiers.
The new board of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will include only nine members: governor, deputy governors, the president of the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, a representative of the minister of finance and four experts in monetary, financial, banking, legal or economic affairs chosen by Egypt's president.
The president's action violates the current law of 2003, which restricted the government's power over the CBE.
The changes have already been partly approved by the cabinet. And in the absence of a parliament, they should come into effect in the coming days.
The new decree is the result of the president's temporary takeover of the country's legislative, executive and judicial powers.
Meanwhile in Cairo, hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators are back in Tahrir Square near the presidential palace to protest against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, whom they accuse of trying to impose a Sharia-based constitution in the upcoming referendum, one that is not representative of Egyptian society. For their part, Islamists have organised rallies in support of the president.
Security forces are out in great numbers occupying Cairo's sensitive spots. The military has been given the power to detain civilians without a warrant.
This morning a group of unknown assailants threw Molotov cocktails against activists who had camped out in Tahrir Square; nine were injured.