Vi­o­lence erupts near pres­i­den­tial palace

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - By Hamza Hen­dawi Nasser Nasser / ap

CAIRO — Sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of Egyp­tian leader Mo­hammed Morsi fought with rocks, fire­bombs and sticks out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace in Cairo on Wed­nes­day, as a new round of protests deep­ened the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal cri­sis.

Mo­hamed ElBa­radei, a lead­ing op­po­si­tion ad­vo­cate of re­form and democ­racy, said Morsi’s rule was “no dif­fer­ent” from that of former Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak, whose au­thor­i­tar­ian regime was top­pled in an upris­ing nearly two years ago.

“In fact, it is per­haps even worse,” the No­bel Peace lau­re­ate told a news con­fer­ence af­ter he ac­cused the pres­i­dent’s sup­port­ers of a “vi­cious and de­lib­er­ate” at­tack on peace­ful demon­stra­tors.

The op­po­si­tion is de­mand­ing Morsi re­scind de­crees giv­ing him near un­re­stricted pow­ers and shelve a dis­puted draft con­sti­tu­tion that the pres­i­dent’s Is­lamist al­lies passed hur­riedly last week.

The duel­ing demon­stra­tions and vi­o­lence are part of a po­lit­i­cal cri­sis that has left the coun­try di­vided into two camps: Is­lamists ver­sus an op­po­si­tion made up of youth groups, lib­eral par­ties and large sec­tors of the pub­lic. Both sides have dug in their heels, sig­nal­ing a pro­tracted stand­off.

The lat­est clashes be­gan when thou­sands of Is­lamist sup­port­ers of Morsi de­scended on the area around the palace where about 300 of his op­po­nents were stag­ing a sit-in. The Is­lamists, mem­bers of Morsi’s Mus­lim Brother­hood group, chased the pro­test­ers away from their base out­side the palace’s main gate and tore down their tents. The pro­test­ers scat­tered in side streets where they chanted anti-Morsi slo­gans.

Af­ter a lull in fight­ing, hun­dreds of young Morsi op­po­nents ar­rived at the scene and im­me­di­ately be­gan throw­ing fire­bombs at the pres­i­dent’s back­ers, who re­sponded with rocks.

No ca­su­al­ties were im­me­di­ately re­ported, but wit­nesses said they saw sev­eral pro­test­ers with blood stream­ing down their faces. Sev­eral op­po­si­tion groups said they were call­ing on their sup­port­ers to head to the palace area, a move that por­tended more vi­o­lence.

“I voted for Morsi to get rid of Hosni Mubarak. I now re­gret it,” Na­dia elShafie yelled at the Brother­hood sup­port­ers.

By night­fall, there were about 10,000 Is­lamists out­side the palace. They set up metal bar­ri­cades to keep traf­fic off a stretch of road that runs par­al­lel to the palace in Cairo’s up­scale He­liopo­lis district. Some of them ap­peared to plan stag­ing their own sit-in.

Vice Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Mekki called for a di­a­logue be­tween the pres­i­dent and the op­po­si­tion to reach a “con­sen­sus” on the dis­puted ar­ti­cles of the con­sti­tu­tion and put their agree­ment in a doc­u­ment that would be dis­cussed by the next par­lia­ment.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.