In a statement, the Supreme Judicial Council called his move “an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings,” and called on him to reverse it.

Judges and prosecutors in Egypt’s second city Alexandria have gone on strike in protest, saying they will not return to work until the decree is reversed.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo says the response of the judges has been tough, if fairly predictable.

There had been reports that the council was about to disband the constituent assembly for a second time, he added, a move that could seriously derail the transition to democracy and further delay new parliamentary elections.