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October 19, 2021

Tanks deployed near presidential palace after deaths mount in Egypt protests

The fallout from President Mohamed Morsy’s sweeping power grab in Egypt has spiraled into more deaths, another key defection and a scene that resembles a war zone.Tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled into the area near the presidential palace Thursday, trying to bring some calm to the country’s latest center of turmoil, CNN reports. Piles of rubble and burned cars littered the streets. The front doors of nearby storefronts were smashed in.Five people have been killed and 446 injured in deadly clashes between pro- and anti-Morsy demonstrators outside the palace, the Egyptian health ministry said Thursday. At least 35 police officers are among the injured, the state-run MENA news agency reported.Clashes flared Wednesday and early Thursday after a week of largely peaceful protests in Cairo. Supporters and critics of Morsy hurled Molotov cocktails, rocks and fireworks at each other in front of the palace.Opponents are furious over Morsy’s recent decree that gave his decisions judicial immunity until a new constitution is approved. They also denounced a proposed constitution — drafted by an Islamist-dominated council – that they fear will give him even more power.But Morsy has said his decree was designed to protect the spirit of the popular 2011 uprising that drove former ruler Hosni Mubarak from power.By late Thursday morning, thousands of the president’s supporters lingered near the palace while virtually all the anti-Morsy protesters had dispersed.But the shakeup continued in Morsy’s inner circle, as Mohammed Seif became the fourth presidential adviser to resign during the upheaval, the state-run EgyNews reported Thursday.Another former adviser, Amr Ellissy, told the world via Twitter that he resigned “in protest of the constitutional declaration and the fact that I was not consulted in making these decisions.” But the Morsy camp is trying to reach out to opponents.Vice President Mahmoud Mekki called for a dialogue with opposition figures and asked critics to submit their proposals to change the disputed articles in the proposed constitution.The president was to address the nation later Thursday, said his chief of staff Refaa El-Tahtawy said. El-Tahtawy said the speech would include important news but did not specify what that might be.Morsy, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, was a Muslim Brotherhood leader before winning office in June, when he resigned from the movement and the Freedom and Justice Party to represent all Egyptians, he said.The Egyptian army has begun clearing demonstrators and the media from outside Cairo’s presidential palace yesterday afternoon, according to BBC. It follows violent overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi that left five people dead and 644 injured.Most protesters left the area by the 15:00 deadline, though some opposition activists remained.Meanwhile, Egypt’s top Islamic body has called on the president to suspend his decree claiming sweeping powers. The Al-Azhar institution also demanded an unconditional dialogue between the president and his opponents.The BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo says this move by one of the most respected bodies in Sunni Islam has put President Morsi – who was largely brought to power by the powerful Islamist Muslim Brotherhood – under more pressure.But he adds that it is difficult to see what compromise is possible between President Morsi and the opposition.

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