UK & World News

  • 24 November 2012, 8:02

Protests Spread Through Egypt's Cities

Opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi have continued their protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square overnight over fears of a new dictatorship.

Activists are angered by the President's decision to grant himself near-absolute power, but Mr Morsi says the powers will allow him to deal with "threats to the revolution".

Hundreds of people have joined the sit-in protest in Tahrir Square, the scene of the violent clashes during the overthrow of the former president, Hosni Mubarak.

It comes after violent clashes broke out in cities across Egypt.

In Alexandria, Egypt's second largest city, protesters stormed the headquarters of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party throwing chairs and books into the street and setting them on fire.

The Daily News Egypt reported injuries in cities across the country as violent clashes broke out between protesters and Mr Morsi's supporters, who according to reports on Twitter, were being bussed in to counter the dissenters.

Hundreds gathered outside the Muslim Brotherhood's offices in Port Said, pelting it with stones and attempting to storm the building.

There were reports the Muslim Brotherhood's offices in Suez and Ismailiya had also been set on fire.

Mr Morsi addressed his supporters at a rally outside the presidential palace telling them he would press forward and that he was on the path to "freedom and democracy".

He said: "No one can stop our march forward ... I am performing my duty to please God and the nation and I take decisions after I consult with everyone." 

He said that the new powers were designed to stop "weevils" from the former Mubarak regime blocking progress. 

Under the new powers assumed by Mr Morsi, none of his laws or decrees can be cancelled, powers have been removed from the judiciary and he can take any measures necessary to safeguard national security.

The move has come as a blow to the pro-democracy movement that formed before Mubarak was ousted and they raise questions about the gains made in last year's uprising.

Opposition forces have denounced the declaration as a "coup". 

They accused Mr Morsi, an Islamist, of "monopolising all three branches of government" and of overseeing "the total execution of the independence of the judiciary".

The United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, Navi Pillay, said that Mr Morsi's move raised serious issues.

Her spokesman, Robert Colville, told a news briefing at the UN in Geneva: "We are very concerned about the possible huge ramifications of this declaration on human rights and the rule of law in Egypt."

The EU has also issued a warning. "It is of utmost importance that democratic process be completed in accordance with the commitments undertaken by the Egyptian leadership," a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said in a statement.

Nobel laureate and former UN atomic energy agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei had earlier lashed out at the declaration, which would effectively put the president above judicial oversight.

"Morsi usurped all state powers and appointed himself Egypt's new pharaoh. A major blow to the revolution that could have dire consequences," Mr ElBaradei wrote on his Twitter account.

The head of the influential Judge's Club, Ahmed al Zind, told a news conference that the judges would hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to decide on their next step, promising "actions, not words".

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