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Hundreds of thousands demand Morsi’s resignation

AFP

Egypt braced for more protests Monday after at least six people died as hundreds of thousands demanded President Mohammed Morsi’s resignation on Sunday. Several protesters died in clashes at the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Egypt braced for more protests on Monday after hundreds of thousands took to the streets in cities across Egypt and marched on the presidential palace in Cairo on Sunday, leaving at least six dead as protesters demanded the resignation of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi on the one-year anniversary of his coming to office.

In Cairo and Nile Delta cities as well as those on the Mediterranean coast, the protests exceeded even the largest demonstrations of the 18-day uprising that toppled former president Hosni Mubarak on February 11, 2011.

"It is the biggest protest in Egypt's history," a military source told AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that "millions" of people were on the streets across the country.

At least 400 people were injured nationwide, the Health Ministry said.

In another sign of the country’s anger at Morsi and the ruling Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, young protesters pelted the party’s main headquarters with stones and firebombs, sparking a fire at the gates of the walled villa. Muslim Brotherhood members that were barricaded inside opened fire on their attackers, killing at least five protesters, activists said.

Another protester died overnight from injuries.

Morsi has made clear that he will not step down. “There is no room for any talk against this constitutional legitimacy,” he told Britain’s “The Guardian” newspaper in an interview published on Sunday in which he rejected the possibility of early elections.

Thousands of Islamists gathered near the presidential palace Sunday afternoon in support of Morsi, some of them prepared for a fight with makeshift armour and sticks.

But most of the protesters aimed to show by sheer numbers that the country has irrevocably turned against Morsi, a year to the day after he was inaugurated as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

Military backs protesters

The mood was largely festive as protesters at anti-Morsi rallies in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square and outside the Ittihadiya palace spilled into side streets and across boulevards, waving flags, blowing whistles and chanting as fireworks lit up the sky.

For weeks, Morsi’s supporters have depicted the planned protest as a plot by Mubarak loyalists. But their claims were undermined by the sheer size of Sunday’s rallies.

It remains unclear whether the opposition, which for months has demanded Morsi form a national unity government, will now accept any concessions short of his removal.

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The anticipated deadlock raises the question of whether the army, deployed on the outskirts of cities, will intervene.

Protesters believe the military would throw its weight behind them, tipping the balance against Morsi.

The country’s police, meanwhile, were notably absent on Sunday. Some officers had told their commanders they would not protect the Muslim Brotherhood from protesters, according to a video of an internal meeting that was released online.

Protesters have vowed to stay on the streets until Morsi steps down, and organisers have called for widespread labour strikes starting Monday.

The president, in turn, appears to be hoping the protests wane on their own.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

 

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