The U.S. State Department issued a statement on Friday reflecting international "concerns" over Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi's recent power grab.
In a statement sent to reporters a day after Morsi granted himself far-reaching powers, including immunity from judicial oversight, the State Department called for a new Egyptian constitution with a strong system of checks and balances.
The statement read: "The decisions and declarations announced on November 22 raise concerns for many Egyptians and for the international community. One of the aspirations of the revolution was to ensure that power would not be overly concentrated in the hands of any one person or institution. The current constitutional vacuum in Egypt can only be resolved by the adoption of a constitution that includes checks and balances, and respects fundamental freedoms, individual rights, and the rule of law consistent with Egypt's international commitments. We call for calm and encourage all parties to work together and call for all Egyptians to resolve their differences over these important issues peacefully and through democratic dialogue."
Notably, the statement does not cite Morsi by name. After the U.S. relied on Morsi to negotiate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas last week, the Egyptian president was praised by both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for his role in ending the Israel-Gaza skirmish.
The European Union has echoed U.S. concerns over Morsi's actions. In a report on Egypt's Ahram Online, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was quoted as saying: "It is of utmost importance that democratic process be completed in accordance with the commitments undertaken by the Egyptian leadership."
In addition to international condemnation, Morsi faced a rebellion on Saturday from judges who accused him of expanding his powers at their expense, deepening a crisis that has triggered violence in the street and exposed the country's deep divisions.
The Judges' Club, a body representing judges across Egypt, called for a strike during a meeting interrupted with chants demanding the "downfall of the regime" — the rallying cry in the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.
Morsi's political opponents and supporters, representing the divide between newly empowered Islamists and their critics, called for rival demonstrations on Tuesday over a decree that has triggered concern in the West.
Issued late on Thursday, the decree marks an effort by Morsi to consolidate his influence after he successfully sidelined Mubarak-era generals in August. The decree defends from judicial review decisions taken by Morsi until a new parliament is elected in a vote expected early next year.
It also shields the Islamist-dominated assembly writing Egypt's new constitution from a raft of legal challenges that have threatened the body with dissolution, and offers the same protection to the Islamist-controlled upper house of parliament.
Egypt's highest judicial authority, the Supreme Judicial Council, said the decree was an "unprecedented attack" on the independence of the judiciary. The Judges' Club, meeting in Cairo, called on Morsi to rescind it.
That demand was echoed by prominent opposition leader Mohamed El-Baradei. "There is no room for dialogue when a dictator imposes the most oppressive, abhorrent measures and then says 'let us split the difference'," he said.
"I am waiting to see, I hope soon, a very strong statement of condemnation by the U.S., by Europe and by everybody who really cares about human dignity," he said in an interview with Reuters and the Associated Press.
More than 300 people were injured on Friday as protests in Alexandria, Cairo and other cities against the decree turned violent. There were attacks on at least three offices belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement that propelled Morsi to power.