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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Thousands of Egyptians protest in Tahrir and at the Presidential Palace against Constitutional Declaration and the draft of the Constitution

Egyptians protesting against Morsy's Constitutional
and raft of the Constitution
Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have gathered on Tuesday, 4 December 2012, in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square and at the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis to protest the controversial Morsy’s Constitutional Declaration and also the draft of the Constitution which was put on the referendum by the President. The massive protests took place nationwide, in many Egyptian cities including Alexandria, Hurghada, Ismailiyya, Luxor, Assiut, Mahalla, Mansoura, Minya and others.

The protests have united Egyptian opposition, and the National Salvation Front, which was recently established by the prominent oppositional figures Mohamed El Baradei, Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabbahy, has issued a joint statement calling for the massive peaceful protests to voice disagreement with the draft of the Constitution and with the Presidential decree giving Morsy wide powers.

We would remind here, that Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy issued on 22 December 2012 the controversial Constitutional Declaration, which gave him almost unlimited powers as it stated all the laws, orders and decrees issued by President to be final and couldn’t be challenged by any authority including the Court. In addition to that Morsy sacked Egypt’s Prosecutor General and appointed the new one. President has also protected Constituent Assembly and Shura Council from the possible dissolution.

This decree provoked worries and anger within the Egyptian society, as it signaled Morsy’s attempt to grab the powers in the country and to usurp all the fields of the state’s policies, claimed the oppositional forces which totally rejected the Constitutional Declaration calling it undemocratic.

Protests against Morsy's decree and the draft of the Constitution
After the massive protests against this Constitutional Declaration Egypt’s Constituent Assembly has been holding the 16-hours marathon meeting to discuss and vote the articles of Egypt’s new Constitution. Despite the fact that the current Constituent Assembly faced numerous withdrawals (nearly two thirds of its members including liberals, secularists, prominent intellectuals, women, representatives of minorities and Coptic Church have withdrawn in protests against Islamist domination of the Assembly) the Assembly has appointed the draft of the Constitution and presented it to Egypt’s President this Saturday. Mohamed Morsy, in his turn, set the national referendum on the Constitutional draft for 15 December 2012.

This move sparked more criticism and anger in the society, as the current Constituent Assembly doesn’t represent all the sectors of Egyptian society, thus the Constitution is written not for all the Egyptians but for Islamists and Salafists only, claim the oppositional figures and activists. Oppositional forces, predominantly liberal, secular and leftists, have totally rejected the draft of the Constitution and declared it is unacceptable as it is an undemocratic Constitution with a lot of its articles being vague and in need of interpretation.

The oppositional forces have organized on Tuesday, 4 December, the massive protests in Cairo and in other Egyptian cities to protests the recent moves made by Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsy and his power Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt's CSF firing tear gas at the protesters
Tens of thousands protesters have gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Other protesters have been marching to the Presidential Palace in Heliopolis from several districts in downtown Cairo. The people have been chanting against Mohamed Morsy and his attempts to establish his dictatorial and authoritarian rule in the country and to divide the people. The protesters have been also chanting against Muslim Brotherhood and its power grab and against the recent draft of the Constitution and the Constitutional Declaration. “Down with the rule of Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood!” and “The people want to topple the regime” were among the chants have been heard today. The demonstrators gathered in front of the Presidential Palace were chanting: “We will not leave, he [Morsy] will leave”.

Numerous protesters have been waving the flags of Egypt and banners with different slogans, and also with the pictures of slain protesters. The marches have started at 4 p.m. local time and maintained peaceful character.

Anti-Morsy protesters declared that they refuse to accept the current draft of the Constitution and consider it being illegal and unconstitutional, thus the referendum shouldn’t be held. Some of the activists call to boycott the referendum. It’s also worth mentioning that Egypt’s High Court judges refused to supervise the referendum on the Constitutional draft protesting Morsy’s attempts to monopolize all the powers in the state. Egypt’s Judges still continue their strike. In addition to that Egyptian journalists and different media workers are protesting too and holding their strikes today to protest the Muslim Brotherhood’s usurpation of the power and issuing the dictatorial decrees. Many tourism workers have been protesting too. Generally there were the people from different social groups and levels and of different ages among those protesting against Morsy’s way of ruling the country, so the massive protests had really universal nature uniting Egyptians.

Massive protests in Cairo and nationwide
It’s worth mentioning that Egypt’s Central Security Forces and Army have been securing the area and also erected the walls and barbed wires to prevent the protesters from reaching the Presidential Palace. When the march approached the cordoned area the police started to fire tear gas to disperse the protesters, and there were some clashes happening. But the CSF has retreated then and reportedly moved to the Palace.

Egypt’s President has held a few meeting in the Palace and later has left the building, according to some reports.

Egyptian Ministry of Health reported there were nearly 10 people getting injured as a result of the clashes with CSF.

Meanwhile the protests against Morsy’s rule, his presidential decree and controversial draft of the Constitution continue, and the protesters stating they will not leave until the declaration and the draft will be cancelled. The sit-in in Tahrir in Cairo also continues since the last week.

Several Egyptian political analysts and experts declared there is the solution in such a situation. They say the only one way to resolve the current crisis is to cancel the referendum set for 15 December and to form the special committee consisting of independent figures and international representatives to revise the draft of the Constitution, especially it’s most controversial and vague articles, and to make some amendments. At the same time new representative Constituent Assembly should be formed and appointed to work on the amendment of the Constitution. But such a scenario unfortunately remains doubtful, claim the analysts.