Thu, Dec 06, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Egyptians take protests to the presidential palace

AFP, CAIRO

Demonstrators have taken their protests against Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to the gates of his palace, demanding his ouster in scenes not witnessed even during demonstrations that toppled former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

A photographer said hundreds of protesters were camped in front of the Itihadiya presidential palace yesterday morning after it had been besieged the previous night by vast anti-Morsi crowds furious at a Nov. 22 decree expanding his powers.

Morsi returned to work in the presidential palace yesterday morning, an aide said.

He had left “on schedule” after his meetings on Tuesday and went back to his house in a Cairo suburb, the Egyptian Interior Ministry had said on Tuesday.

Before dawn, street vendors began to set up shop along the walls of the palace which had been sprayed with anti-Morsi graffiti.

“The final warning, the presidency under siege,” read the headline of daily al-Shuruk as the independent al-Watan declared: “Revolution at the president’s doorstep.”

During Tuesday’s protest, which drew tens of thousands of demonstrators, a group cut through barbed wire a few hundred meters from the palace, prompting police to fire the tear gas, before retreating and allowing demonstrators to reach the palace walls, correspondents said.

Demonstrators banged on lamp posts and chanted “leave” in a thunderous show of force outside the palace not seen before.

On the last days of the revolution that brought down Mubarak, tens of thousands had tried to reach the Itihadiya palace, but were prevented from getting close by military police.

Hundreds more Morsi opponents spent Tuesday night in Cairo’s Tahrir Square inside dozens of tents erected almost two weeks ago, as activists used social networking sites to appeal for blankets and food.

The protesters are angry over Morsi’s decree, which granted him sweeping powers and enabled him to call a Dec. 15 referendum on a draft constitution boycotted by liberals, leftists and Christians.

As he faces the worst political crisis since he took office in June, Morsi insists the measures are aimed at cutting short a tumultuous transition.

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