Egypt’s most senior judges announced on Monday that they would delegate judicial officers to oversee a referendum on a controversial draft constitution, overriding calls for a boycott, a presidential aide said.

The Supreme Judicial Council’s announcement that judges would monitor the December 15 vote across the country comes as a blow to President Mohamed Morsy’s opponents, including judges, who had hoped to de-legitimise the referendum.

Mohammed Gadallah, Mr. Morsy’s legal aide, told AFP that the decision meant that the referendum would take place under judicial supervision, despite calls for a boycott by the Judges Club, a powerful syndicate representing judges nationwide.

“The largest body responsible for judges is the Supreme Judicial Council”, said Mr. Gadallah. “They realised they had a responsibility before the nation to supervise.

“This means, it’s over,” he said when asked whether it was still possible for the vote to be boycotted by judges.

The Judges Club took the boycott decision after Mr. Morsy on November 22 issued a decree expanding his powers and rushed through the adoption of the draft constitution at the heart of a political and ideological battle in Egypt. — AFP