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Egyptian Opposition Protesters Surround Presidential Palace on Tuesday, Islamists Come Out to Protect President on Wednesday

December 5, 2012

Protesters regroup outside presidential palace as Morsy returns

Egypt Independent Wed, 05/12/2012 - 11:30

Dozens of protesters are preparing for a sit-in outside the presidential palace to protest the constitutional declaration and planned referendum on the draft constitution.

An aide told Reuters that President Mohamed Morsy has returned to the palace Wednesday after leaving Tuesday night amid demonstrations that left nearly 30 civilians injured.

The Interior Ministry also announced Wednesday that 40 police officers had sustained cuts, bruises and fractures on Tuesday night, including the head of Cairo's Central Security Administration and a deputy chief police investigator.

Photos aired by State TV Wednesday showed protesters erecting tents, and a reporter for state news agency MENA said that 24 tents have been set up outside the palace.

Morsy was forced to leave after protests swelled outside the palace walls Tuesday evening, but by Wednesday morning only one Central Security car and one armored vehicle were stationed outside the back entrance.

Morsy’s 22 November declaration makes his decrees immune from judicial review. The president’s decision to call a referendum on the constitution draft has also stoked anger among opposition forces objecting to Islamist domination of the Constituent Assembly and the drafting process.

In a statement late Tuesday, the Constitution Party said it would stage a sit-in outside the palace until Friday, while calling for continuing marches and support for a parallel demonstration in Tahrir Square.

Police forces used tear gas against protesters Tuesday night as both sides clashed near the palace. A number of protesters removed barbed wires around the palace. Some demonstrators spray-painted slogans against Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood on its walls.

Other demonstrators gave out leaflets condemning the draft of the new constitution: "The draft of the new constitution, laid down without political consensus, entrenches despotism, authoritarianism, social injustice, military guardianship," the documents read.


Islamists to gather at presidential palace in support of Morsy

Egypt Independent Wed, 05/12/2012 - 14:06

The Muslim Brotherhood is calling for a protest on Wednesday at the presidential palace in support of Mohamed Morsy and "legitimacy," in a direct challenge to opposition forces demonstrating against the president there.

In a statement posted on the group's Facebook page, spokesperson Mahmoud Ghozlan said that the calls for demonstrations were meant to "protect the legitimacy after the brute infringements conducted on Tuesday by a group that thought they could shake legitimacy or impose their opinion by force."

Dozens of anti-Mohamed Morsy protesters are staging a sit-in outside the presidential palace in Heliopolis after thousands-strong marches to the palace Tuesday night in protest of the president's rush to put the constitution up for a vote, as well as his constitutional declaration last month granting him broad powers.

Earlier on Tuesday, the website of state-run Al-Ahram newspaper quoted a Jama'a al-Islamiya source as saying that various Islamist factions will gather at the palace to support Morsy. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the Salafi-oriented Nour Party and Jama'a al-Islamiya’s Construction and Development Party are among the groups that will participate, according to Al-Ahram.


Update: 27 injured in clashes at presidential palace

Al-Masry Al-Youm MENA Tue, 04/12/2012 - 23:09

Ahmed Omar, Health Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday night that 27 people have been injured so far in the protests at the presidential palace in Heliopolis.

The head of ambulance services said earlier in a statement that the injuries are mostly bruises and difficulty breathing due to the tear gas. He reported that there have been no deaths.

Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Central Security Forces did not withdraw from the area, but were relocated after protesters tried to cross the barbed wire around the palace.

The minister stressed that the demonstrations at the palace and Tahrir Square are peaceful, adding that the CSF are committed to securing them.

President Mohamed Morsy left the palace on Tuesday evening, two sources reported to Reuters, after protesters angered by his 22 November decree expanding his powers clashed with security forces outside.

The Interior Minister said that the president left the palace after he concluded all his meetings, implying that his leaving was not because of the protest.

Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that Central Security Forces had withdrawn completely from the area surrounding the presidential palace, while numbers of protesters grew. Members of the Republican Guard were stationed inside the palace.

Minor clashes erupted between protesters and security forces after some protesters tried to cross barbed wire set up by security forces earlier in the day. Security personnel fired tear gas canisters, and some protesters were injured in the clashes, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Al-Masry Al-Youm estimated that there are tens of thousands of protesters in the area. Former presidential candidate Khaled Ali was reported to be leading a march to the area in the evening.

Two marches including hundreds of protesters from the Korba and Abbasseya neighborhoods had arrived in Heliopolis in the evening as part of the march planned to the presidential palace.

Hundreds of protesters gathered near the presidential palace earlier Tuesday as part of the “Final Warning” demonstrations against the 22 November constitutional declaration and the draft constitution, which is scheduled for referendum on 15 December.

Quarrels took place between protesters and the Central Security Forces after the latter prevented the former from proceeding further toward the vicinity of the presidential palace. The protesters accused the security forces of favoring the Muslim Brotherhood as they have during past demonstrations allowed them to gather and show support for President Mohamed Morsy near the palace.

Protesters put banners on the barbed wire, including an image of Morsy in pharaonic attire bearing the phrase, “Down with the pharaoh president,” chanting, “The people want to bring down the regime.”

Military spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali denied on Tuesday that the Armed Forces had sent troops to secure the presidential palace, stressing that guarding the palace was not among the Armed Forces’ duties.

Ali added that the Armed Forces are not part of any political conflict and are neutral toward all political forces.

Protesters who gathered on Mirghany and Ibrahim al-Laqqany streets close to the palace earlier Tuesday could not reach the palace due to the barbed wire.

The protesters chanted, “We want bread, freedom and to bring down Constituent Assembly” and, “Down with the rule of the [Muslim Brotherhood] supreme guide.”

One of the officers securing the palace prevented two ambulances from driving by. The officer told Al-Masry Al-Youm that he was given orders not to allow vehicles to drive by or people to gather around the palace.

Meanwhile, the Freedom and Justice Party’s media adviser, Mourad Ali, preemptively laid responsibility for any violence at the presidential palace during protests on Tuesday on the opposition.

“We welcome protests anywhere, so long as they are peaceful without any form of violence or hindering work of state institutions,” he told reporters. “We staged protests last Saturday. Millions took part. No cases of harassment or attacks on anyone or state buildings erupted.”

Ali laid responsibility on Constitution Party head Mohamed ElBaradei, Popular Current founder Hamdeen Sabbahi, former MP Amr Hamzawy and Wafd Party chief Al-Sayed al-Badawy for violence that could take place during the protests. “Like we shouldered responsibility for our protests and succeeded in organizing them, they should bear responsibility for protests they called for, as well.”

Political forces had called earlier for protests Tuesday in front of the presidential palace against the constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsy on 22 November. Two marches were staged from the Nour and Raba’a al-Adaweya mosques to the presidential palace, while a demonstration is also ongoing in Tahrir Square.

Demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Tuesday before marching. The demonstrations were sparked by the political crisis that resulted after the declaration, which protected the Shura Council and Constituent Assembly from being dissolved and made Morsy’s decisions unchallengeable.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm


President's aides meet with US officials ahead of state visit

Egypt Independent Wed, 05/12/2012 - 12:33

Essam al-Haddad, the president’s assistant for foreign affairs and member of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Guidance Bureau, met on Tuesday in Washington DC with US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, the US Embassy in Cairo said on Wednesday.

Haddad along with Khaled al-Qazaz, the president’s foreign affairs secretary, are in Washington to prepare for President Mohamed Morsy’s visit to the US, which is expected to begin on 17 December.

The visit will come two days after a scheduled referendum on the new constitution on 15 December, which has stoked the ire of opposition political forces.

“The two officials reaffirmed the strategic relationship between the United States and Egypt,” the US Embassy in Cairo said on its Facebook page, adding that they are discussing a broad range of issues including building on the Israeli-Palestinian cease fire in Gaza.

Last month, Washington praised Morsy for championing a cease fire between Israel and Hamas. But Washington has also expressed concerns over Morsy’s commitment to democracy at home.

Haddad and Donilon also discussed “Egypt’s democratic transition and the need to move forward with a peaceful and inclusive transition that respects the rights of all Egyptians,” the statement said.

El-Baradei, Sabbahi and others to be investigated for 'espionage'

Al-Masry Al-Youm Tue, 04/12/2012 - 18:31

Prosecutor General Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah on Tuesday referred a complaint accusing former presidential candidates and politicians of spying and inciting the overthrow of the government to the State Security Prosecution for investigation.

Hamed Sadeq, a lawyer who filed the report, accused former presidential candidates Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabbahi, Constitution Party leader Mohamed ElBaradei, Wafd Party president Al-Sayed al-Badawy and Judges Club head Ahmed al-Zend of espionage and sedition.

Sadeq claimed that Moussa met with former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and agreed with her to fabricate internal crises, and that all of the politicians named in his complaint then met at the Wafd Pary headquarters to implement the “Zionist plot.” He requested that the accused be banned from travel and that the Wafd Party headquarters be confiscated for investigation.

Filing criminal charges against opposition figures was a common practice during former President Hosni Mubarak’s era.

Ghad al-Thawra Party leader Ayman Nour was sentenced to five years in prison in December 2005 for allegedly forging signatures to enable him to register the Ghad Party. The party had been approved in 2004. Nour was released from prison in February 2009.

Nour finished second after Mubarak in the presidential election in September 2005. Some observers argued that the case was punishment for his unexpected bid for presidency.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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