Egypt crisis: Morsi opponents vow to continue protests

Opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi say they will continue their protest outside the presidential palace in Cairo.

Report By BBC

Some have erected tents around the perimeter wall after Tuesday saw tens of thousands of demonstrators besiege the palace and clash with police.

They were protesting at a controversial draft constitution and President Morsi’s decree granting himself wide-ranging new powers.

Police fired tear gas to disperse them.

Eighteen people were injured in the brief burst of violence but none seriously, the official Mena news agency reported.

At one point, the security forces issued a televised statement saying President Morsi had left the building.

It was an unprecedented moment. The presidential palace in Cairo under siege, the police close to losing control.

President Morsi had to be hustled away for his own safety.

Nothing similar happened, even in the protests against former President Hosni Mubarak last year.

It was yet another sign of how deeply divided this country is as a referendum on a new constitution approaches in less than two weeks’ time.

Many of those gathered outside the palace, in the suburb of Heliopolis, chanted slogans similar to those directed against the regime of former President Hosni Mubarak during the uprising in February 2011.

The BBC’s Jon Leyne, in Cairo, says that this latest demonstration adds a new twist to the already mounting crisis.

Mena reports that many anti-Morsi demonstrators have now ended their protests outside the presidential palace and returned to Tahrir Square, the focal point of most protests in the capital.

“We won’t be able to speak – there won’t be a court that we can go talk to,” one protester, Israa Wafid, told Reuters news agency.

“He has made himself a fort and he says it is a temporary fort – this is something we cannot believe.

“We’ve spent 30 years being betrayed – we won’t believe Morsi, he will remain seated in the chair and not leave it.”

In a statement read out on television, Egyptian security forces called for calm among the protesters.

A sizeable crowd of protesters also turned out in Egypt’s second city Alexandria.
Press action

President Morsi adopted sweeping new powers in a decree on 22 November, and stripped the judiciary of any power to challenge his decisions.

He has also called a nationwide referendum for 15 December on a new constitution, which opponents say has been rushed through and fails to protect the rights of minorities, particularly women.

Mr Morsi, who narrowly won Egypt’s first free presidential election in June, says he will give up his new powers once a new constitution is ratified.

But his actions have brought tens of thousands of people, both his supporters and his opponents, in recent days.

Several newspapers refused to go to press on Tuesday, or printed blank front pages, in protest at what they said was the lack of press freedom in the constitution.

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