Egypt’s president Mohamed Mursi has cancelled a decree granting him sweeping new powers and immunity from judicial oversight in the face of widespread protests in the country.

A referendum on Egypt’s new constitution, planned to be held on 15 December, will still go ahead.

The cancellation, followed a statement by the Egyptian military, warning the country was heading towards a “dark tunnel that will result in catastrophe”, something it said it will not allow.

Opposition groups in Egypt have been demanding Mursi rescind the decrees made on 22 November, but say they will continue to challenge the president. Protestors are demanding the referendum be delayed and are calling for Mursi to step down.

The president has also issued another decree allowing the military to arrest civilians, a power previously held only by the police. The army will be responsible for the protection of state premises and maintaining security, using force if necessary. This will be in force until the constitution is passed.