Egypt Gives Military Arrest Powers to Protect Referendum

Cairo — A decree issued by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi giving the military temporary authority to arrest civilians and protect “vital facilities of the state” took effect Monday, as a standoff continued over an upcoming referendum on a controversial draft constitution and more protests were called for Tuesday.

Egypt’s liberal opposition coalition has formally rejected the president’s plan to hold the referendum on a new constitution largely shaped by Morsi’s Islamist allies.

Analysts said it was difficult to know exactly what the new decree might mean in the context of Egypt’s ongoing political crisis, which has divided the nation’s revolutionaries nearly two years after they ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak.