Egypt's Islamist-dominated constitutional panel to vote on draft in hurried move

The Associated Press

CAIRO - Members of an Islamist-dominated panel tasked to write a new constitution are gathering to vote on the document's final draft in a move likely to stoke a widening political crisis over decrees giving the president near absolute powers.

Thursday's vote on the draft is unexpected, coming a week after Islamist President Mohammed Morsi extended by two months, until February, the work of the 100-member panel to allow it time to iron out differences.

It also comes ahead of a Sunday court ruling on the legitimacy of the panel. Fast tracking the process is thought to be designed to pre-empt a possible ruling to dissolve the panel.

Liberal members of the panel have withdrawn to protest what they say is the hijacking of the process by Islamists loyal to Morsi.