Egypt's President, Mohamed Morsi, Annuls 'Power Grabbing' Decree

Opposition leaders have called Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi's annulment of a controversial decree to expand his powers a "meaningless gesture", after weeks of widespread riots and protests against it.

The legislation, issued on the 22nd November, allowed Morsi to make decisions unchallenged by Egypt's judiciary, stoking accusations that he was returning the country to a dictatorship like that of his ousted predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Opposition leaders say that the move is already too late as Morsi has already used the decree to pass an controversial Islamist draft charter.

Egypt's military have taken a prominent role in quelling demonstrations

Khaled Dawood, the spokesperson for the National Salvation Front, said annulling the decree was "relatively meaningless".

"The key issue of securing the process of adopting of the constitution is done," he told Al Jazeera.

A planned referendum on a new constitution will still go ahead on the 15th December.

The National Salvation Front (NSF), Egypt's main opposition party, dismissed the move as insufficient.

A NSF spokesman told the BBC: "My first personal impression is that it is a limited and insufficient step. We repeatedly said that among our top demands is for the referendum to be delayed."

Speaking to the BBC World Service, Ahmed Said, leader of Free Egyptians Party and a member of the front, said: "This constitution does not represent Egyptians.

"We need to take time. He wants the constitution, because they want the parliament, they want the Shura council. It all has to do with the Muslim Brotherhood. They want to take over everything."

Said, a leading member of the NSF said the decision to press ahead with the referendum was "making things a lot worse."

He told Reuters: "I cannot imagine that after all this they want to pass a constitution that does not represent all Egyptians."

Morsi had originally claimed the decree was necessary to "safeguard the revolution" but opponents quickly took to the streets to vent their fury at what they saw as a power-grabbing move.

Clashes between protestors and police became a regular occurrence over the past week, many centered around Cairo's Tahir Square, the site of the 2011 Arab Spring demonstrations.

Seven people have been killed and around 700 injured.

Morsi was forced to surround his presidential compound with tanks, barbed wire and armed members of the Revolutionary Guard.

According to the Guardian, Morsi is set to introduce a new law that will grant the military powers of arrest until a new constitution is passed.

Military leaders had earlier issued a statement saying: "Dialogue is the best and only way to reach consensus. The opposite of that will bring us to a dark tunnel that will result in catastrophe and that is something we will not allow."

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party welcomed the army's "balanced" line.