Rioters in Cairo
Rioters in Cairo Reuters

The Egyptian Assembly is racing the clock to finish writing the nation's Constitution by Thursday before the body is dissolved. 

Officials at the constitutional assembly said Wednesday the draft of the new Constitution was close to completion, even though President Mohammed Morsi had extended the deadline to February.

The state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) said Thursday that among the details of the draft it had obtained was a clause on freedom of the media saying that only the courts can suspend or close newspapers.

The draft also includes establishment of a National Security Council led by the president and including key officials such as the prime minister, defense minister and chief of intelligence, the news agency reported.

The constitutional court is set to meet Sunday, when it has threatened to dissolve the Assembly, currently dominated by Islamists.

Among them is the ruling Muslim Brotherhood faction which backed President Mohammed Morsi's rise to power.

The Assembly has been boycotted by liberal, leftist and Christian members who accuse Islamists of trying to impose their vision on the new constitution.

One week ago, Morsi issued a decree that gave himself sweeping new powers, including authority that placed decisions of the presidency above the authority of the courts, until a new constitution is in place.

In response, most judges and prosecutors declared a strike. Thousands protested across the country and in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square. Clashes broke out between protesters and police several times. On Wednesday, protesters attacked riot police during clashes in front of the U.S. embassy, near Tahrir Square, where hundreds demonstrated for a sixth day to demand the president rescind the decree they said gives him dictatorial powers. Two of Egypt's top courts stopped work in protest.

More protests are scheduled for Saturday in Cairo. However, if the draft constitution is approved by the constituent assembly, it would then move to a national referendum.

Egypt's lower house of parliament, also led by the Muslim Brotherhood, has already been dissolved by the courts.

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