Egypt opposition protests against constitution

Tue Dec 18, 2012 6:52pm EST
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By Yasmine Saleh and Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - Opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi staged protests in Cairo on Tuesday against an Islamist-backed draft constitution that has divided Egypt but looks set to be approved in the second half of a referendum this weekend.

Several hundred protesters outside the presidential palace chanted "Revolution, revolution, for the sake of the constitution" and called on Mursi to "Leave, leave, you coward!". While the protest was noisy, numbers were down on previous demonstrations.

Mursi obtained a 57 percent "yes" vote for the constitution in the first part of the referendum last weekend, state media said, less than he had hoped for.

The opposition, which says the basic law is too Islamist, will be encouraged by the result but is unlikely to win the second part this Saturday, which is to be held in districts seen as even more sympathetic towards Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.

The National Salvation Front opposition coalition said there were widespread voting violations last Saturday and called for protests to "bring down the invalid draft constitution".

The Ministry of Justice said it was appointing judges to investigate complaints of voting irregularities.

Opposition marchers converged on Tahrir Square, cradle of the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak almost two years ago, and Mursi's presidential palace, still ringed with tanks after earlier protests.

A protester at the presidential palace, Mohamed Adel, 30, said: "I have been camping here for weeks and will continue to do so until the constitution that divided the nation, and for which people died, gets scrapped."   Continued...

Protesters opposing President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans as they demonstrate in front of the presidential palace, where Republican Guard Force tanks have been deployed, in Cairo December 18, 2012. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah