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Egypt's president, judges eye reform

| Sunday, April 28, 2013, 9:18 p.m.

CAIRO — The Egyptian president's office indicated on Sunday that a compromise has been reached with the judiciary to defuse an uproar over a proposed law that would have forced out thousands of the country's most senior judges.

Just three days earlier, the country's Islamist-led parliament pushed ahead with the disputed bill that would have lowered the retirement age for judges from 70 to 60. That would affect nearly a quarter of Egypt's 13,000 judges and prosecution officials.

The draft also would have barred the courts from reviewing or overturning presidential decrees issued by President Mohamed Morsy late last year, including his unilateral appointment of a new top prosecutor.

The crisis over the judiciary is a reflection of the deep polarization that has split the country over the rule of Morsy and his Muslim Brotherhood party. He has been in a power struggle with the judiciary since his June election.

In an attempt to resolve the situation, Morsy met on Sunday with five top judges. A statement from the president's office after the meeting said Morsy will implement a conference this week to work out a compromise with judges regarding laws that affect the judiciary.

“The president said he will personally adopt all the conclusions of the conference for proposals of bills in order to submit them to the legislative council,” the statement said.

After the meeting, opponents of the proposed law canceled protests set for Monday.

The president's allies say the courts are filled with loyalists of the deposed regime of Hosni Mubarak. The opposition accuses Morsy's backers of calling for reform of the judiciary as a cover to install their supporters.

A protest by opponents and supporters of the bill led to street clashes in the capital nine days ago, and thousands of judges met last week to demand international organizations investigate the crisis.

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