Rivals clash as Mursi's deputy seeks end to Egypt crisis

Wed Dec 5, 2012 5:33pm EST
 
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By Edmund Blair and Marwa Awad

CAIRO (Reuters) - Islamists battled with protesters outside Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's palace on Thursday, after his vice president suggested amendments could be agreed to the draft constitution that has divided the nation.

Fires burned in the streets near the palace perimeter where opponents and supporters of Mursi threw stones and petrol bombs. Riot police tried to separate the two sides, but failed to halt fighting that extended from Wednesday into the early morning.

Residents, frustrated that police had not calmed the streets, set up makeshift road blocks nearby to check passers-by, scenes reminiscent of the popular uprising that toppled Mursi's autocratic predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

Medical sources said 211 people were wounded, some with gunshot wounds.

"No to dictatorship," Mursi's opponents chanted, while their rivals chanted: "Defending Mursi is defending Islam."

Mursi's opponents accused him of creating a new autocracy by awarding himself extraordinary powers in a decree on November 22 and were further angered when an Islamist-dominated assembly pushed through a draft constitution that opponents said did not properly represent the aspirations of the whole nation.

The United States, worried about the stability of a state that has a peace deal with Israel and to which it gives $1.3 billion in military aid each year, called for dialogue.

Bidding to end the worst crisis since Mursi took office less than six months ago, Vice President Mahmoud Mekky said amendments to disputed articles in the constitution could be agreed with the opposition. A written agreement could then go to parliament, to be elected after a referendum on the constitution on December 15.   Continued...

 
Supporters of Egypt's President Mohammed Mursi chant slogans while holding a placard reading: "Yes for the Constitution", outside the presidential palace in Cairo December 5, 2012. Islamists fought protesters outside the Egyptian president's palace on Wednesday, while inside the building his deputy proposed a way to end a crisis over a draft constitution that has split the most populous Arab nation. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany