Thursday, December 06, 2012

Marches Move Towards Egypt's Presidential Palace Despite Curfew

Marches move towards Egypt's presidential palace despite curfew

Ahram Online, Thursday 6 Dec 2012

Political forces opposed to President Mohamed Morsi on Thursday evening launched three marches on the presidential palace in Cairo, the scene of recent clashes between the president's supporters and opponents.

The president's supporters dispersed a sit-in held by opposition protesters after hundreds of thousands demonstrated against Morsi on Tuesday due to his 22 November constitutional declaration and a controversial draft constitution, which will be put before a popular referendum on 15 December.

The rallies include members of the Dostour Party, the revolutionary Maspero Youth Union and the Popular Alliance Party. They are planning to head towards the presidential palace in three marches.

One has set out from Cairo's Abbasiya cathedral, a second from Al-Nour Mosque in Abbasiya, and a third from Raba Al-Adawia Mosque located in the capital's Nasr City district.

An Ahram Online reporter in the march that set off from Al-Nour Mosque says there is an air of "sadness and anger" as protesters chant against the Muslim Brotherhood and Morsi.

"Down with the rule of the Supreme Guide," "Down with Morsi" and other chants rang out as thousands of protesters walked towards Al-Khalifa Al-Maamoun, which intersects Marghany Street overlooking the palace.

As the groups marched, opposition protesters were already at the palace, where adjacent streets have been barricaded and staffed with Presidential Guard officers and soldiers. The guard ordered protesters to leave the area by 3pm Cairo local time and imposed a curfew on the area until further notice.

Wednesday's clashes saw at least six people killed and 600 injured. The Brotherhood – from which Morsi hails – said that five of its members had been killed in the clashes.

For over two weeks, protesters have been calling for the annulment of the president's recent constitutional declaration and the draft constitution.

Opposition demonstrators believe the constitutional declaration has given Morsi unfettered powers and put him beyond any legal accountability. They also argue that the draft constitution, written by Egypt's Islamist-led Constituent Assembly, would "Islamise" the country and have an adverse effect on civil freedoms.

Morsi supporters believe that the president – and his constitutional declaration – seeks to realise a longstanding revolutionary demand by bringing former regime figures to justice. They also support the draft constitution and want to see it passed.

The presidential guard has yet to announce when the newly imposed curfew will be lifted.

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