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Egypt's chief prosecutor withdraws resignation

Egypt's chief public prosecutor, Talaat Abdullah, has withdrawn his resignation. The move comes just days after he resigned in the face of protests by prosecutors and judges demanding that he step down.

Abdullah, appointed by President Muhammad Morsi last month, made the reversal Thursday, saying the when he offered his resignation three days earlier, he had done so under duress, according a report published by the state newspaper Al-Ahram.

The justice minister was considering his request.

Controversy over Adbullah

Abdullah had initially quit when over 1,000 members of his staff gathered outside his Cairo office demanding that he resign. Morsi had appointed him as part of the sweeping powers he assumed by issuing a controversial presidential decree on November 22.

Previously, Morsi has sacked former public prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmud, who the president's supporters said had failed to convict members of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

Morsi's decision to go above Egypt's judiciary with the appointment threatened the independence of the courts, opponents said. His actions caused many judges across the country to go on strike and there were mass protests against the Muslim Brotherhood-backed president.

Morsi rescinded the November 22 decree on December 8, but kept Abdullah on as prosecutor general.

Constitutional referendum resumes

Abdullah's about-face comes less than two days before the second round of voting is to begin on Egypt's draft constitution on December 22.

The document, hastily passed by Egypt's Islamist-dominated legislative assembly, has been criticized by opposition groups who argued that, if ratified, it would undermine human rights in the country, particularly with regard to women and religious minorities.

The political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood said after the first round of voting on December 15 that its unofficial tallies pointed to 57 percent public support for the draft constitution. The opposition National Salvation Front coalition has claimed voting violations, allegations, which the ministry of justice said it was making steps to investigate.

dr/pfd  (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)