In this Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012 photo, former Egyptian presidential candidate, Hamdeen Sabahi, left, speaks to former director of the U.N.'s nuclear agency and Nobel peace laureate, Mohamed El Baradei, during a news conference flanked by other prominent politicians, not shown, from outside the Muslim Brotherhood, to decry what was interpreted as a de facto declaration of emergency law by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, in Cairo Egypt. Egypt's Islamist president unilaterally decreed greater authorities for himself Thursday and effectively neutralized a judicial system that had emerged as a key opponent by declaring that the courts are barred from challenging his decisions. (AP Photo/Mostafa El Shemy)
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi told thousands of supporters that his latest decisions granting himself sweeping powers were meant to stop "weevils" from the former regime from stopping progress.
Morsi's speech Friday came while thousands of opponents and supporters clashed in the streets over the decree that critics fear allows him to be a virtual dictator.
The decrees exempt him and other bodies from judicial review.
Morsi's supporters have cast the decrees as temporary measures through the transitional period to prevent supporters of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, including judicial officials, of blocking reform.
"There are weevils eating away at Egypt's nation," he said, accusing some judges of planning to disband the upper house of parliament.
Tens of thousands of anti-Morsi protesters rallied miles away in Tahrir Square.