Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi has said country’s new draft constitution will be put to a referendum on December 15th.
Mohammed Morsi made the announcement before the Islamist-dominated constituent assembly, which rushed to approve the document earlier in the week.
Both the draft constitution and a recent decree giving Mohammed Morsi sweeping new powers have prompted widespread protests by opponents of the president.
However, his Islamist supporters held their own demonstrations on Saturday.
After receiving a copy of the document, Mohammed Morsi called “all Egyptians to a referendum on the draft constitution on Saturday 15 December”.
If approved, the new text will overwrite all constitutional declarations – including Mohammed Morsi’s decree issued on the 22 November – and a new parliament should be elected within 60 days.
The constituent assembly voted on and passed all 234 articles during a marathon session that began on Thursday and continued through the night.
Liberals, secularists and Christians walked out of the assembly saying the changes were being forced through.
“Morsi put to referendum a draft constitution that undermines basic freedoms and violates universal values. The struggle will continue,” key opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei tweeted on Saturday.
Among the historic changes to Egypt’s system of government, the draft limits a president to two four-year terms. It also introduces some civilian oversight of the military.
The draft keeps in place an article defining “principles of Sharia”, or Islamic law, as the main source of legislation.
Earlier, tens of thousands of Islamist supporters of the president gathered outside Cairo University.
“The people support the president’s decision!” they chanted, while a banner read: “The people want the implementation of God’s law.”