World News Brief, Tuesday December 4

Judges in Egypt boycott referendum on Morsi's powers; North Korean missile now on launch pad; Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng urges Communist Party chief to effect political reform; Taliban suicide bombers hit US-Afghan air base; Europe to act on Israel's settlement actions; and more

Egypt's Judges Boycott Morsi Referendum

Judges in Egypt have refused to oversee a vote (AlJazeera) on the country's new draft constitution that will be held in two weeks as tensions heighten between Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court and supporters of President Mohammed Morsi. Several hundred Morsi supporters protested (Guardian) outside the court on Sunday ahead of a session expected to examine the legality of parliament's upper house and the assembly that drafted a new constitution. The incidents cast a legal shadow over Morsi's efforts to navigate a crisis sparked by a November 22 decree that expanded his powers and led to nationwide protests against him and his Muslim Brotherhood group.


"There is no doubt that the constitutional court's original annulment of the whole of the Islamist-dominated parliament – when the objections were to only one portion of the seats – suited the supreme military council's purposes. And there was nothing to assume the court would not have annulled the constituent assembly that was appointed by that parliament, rendering the draft invalid as well," writes a Guardian editorial.

"To be fair to Mr Morsi, there is still an unresolved power struggle in Egypt. The army and security services, the backbone of the Mubarak regime, are, for now, quiescent – and no doubt rubbing their hands. But there are still no clear lines between the executive, legislature and judiciary. Liberals and the left need to get organised politically beyond their impressive ability to fill public squares," writes a Financial Times editorial.

"Judging by the results of the last parliamentary election, Islamists are possibly in a minority in Egypt, certainly not an overwhelming majority. However, they are much better organised than the liberals, and may be better at getting their supporters to the polls," writes Jon Leyne for the BBC.



North Korean Missile on Launch Pad

North Korea has placed the first stage of its long-range rocket on a launch pad in the latest indication (Yonhap) that Pyongyang will follow its plan to fire the rocket this month in defiance of international warnings. Russia and China on Monday urged North Korea to halt its launch.

CHINA: Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng issued a taped statement from exile urging Communist Party chief and president-in-waiting Xi Jinping to effect political reform (AP) or risk a violent political transition.



Taliban suicide bombers hit US-Afghan air base

Europe to act on Israel's settlement actions

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This CFR Backgrounder explains China's Communist Party.