Military tanks deployed after deadly clashes in Cairo
The Egyptian army deployed tanks outside the Presidential Palace in Cairo last night, after clashes that killed at least five people and injured hundreds.
The violence between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi followed a new controversial draft constitution, which has deepened schisms and exacerbated an already strained political crisis.
The fighting began when thousands of Morsi’s supporters descended upon a sit-in protest outside the palace on Wednesday, largely made up of secular opponents of the president.
Supporters tore down the protesters’ tents and chased them away from the area. Rocks, firebombs and guns were used in battles that carried on well into the night and spilled out into the nearby residential streets.
The opposition has demanded that the draft, which they say does not protect civilian freedoms and women’s rights, is cancelled, at which point they will be ready for dialogue.
Vice President Mahmoud Mekki said in a speech on Wednesday that the government will go ahead with the constitutional referendum on time, set for 15th December, but that the “door is open to reach an agreement and to come up with initiatives and alternatives”.
The draft comes in the wake of a decree passed in November that granted the president new extraordinary powers, which critics claim will create a new autocracy.
Lucy Cait Jordan