CAIRO — Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council agreed Monday to oversee a national referendum on the country's draft constitution, a move that suggested at least a temporary easing of the crisis between the courts and President Mohamed Morsi.
The decision by the council, which last month condemned a power grab by Morsi as an "unprecedented attack" on the courts, indicates the influential judicial organization is looking to contain Egypt's political unrest. But it also highlights disagreements within the judiciary because many judges have gone on strike and vowed to boycott the Dec. 15 referendum.
The decision by the Supreme Judicial Council came a day before Tuesday's planned march on the presidential palace by political opposition forces to pressure Morsi to rescind a decree that gave him immunity from judicial oversight. The march has been dubbed "The Final Warning" and is to be led by leading dissidents, including Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei.
The Muslim Brotherhood, with which Morsi is affiliated, quickly endorsed the move by the judicial council.
"The party appreciates the position of the Supreme Judicial Council, who will follow through with their national duty to oversee the referendum," Saad Katatni, head of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, said in a statement. "We hope that this will be the beginning of the detente in the current crisis."