The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Nation & World

June 30, 2013

Protesters gather to demand Morsi's ouster

CAIRO — Thousands of opponents and supporters of Egypt's Islamist president began massing in city squares in competing rallies Sunday, gearing up for a day of massive nationwide protests that many fear could turn deadly as the opposition seeks to push out Mohammed Morsi.

Waving Egyptian flags, crowds descended on Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, one of multiple sites in Cairo and around the country where they plan rallies.

On the other side of Cairo, thousands of the Islamist leader's backers gathered not far from the presidential palace in a show of support.

The demonstrations on Sunday, the anniversary of Morsi's inauguration as Egypt's first freely elected leader, are the culmination of growing polarization since he took office.

The president is joined in one camp by his Islamist allies, including the Muslim Brotherhood and more hard-line groups. The other is an array of secular and liberal Egyptians as well as moderate Muslims and Christians — and what the opposition says is a broad sector of the general public that has turned against the Islamists.

There is a sense among opponents and supporters of Morsi that Sunday's rally is a make-or-break day, hiking worries of violence. Already at least seven people, including an American, have been killed in clashes between the two camps over the past week, mainly in Nile Delta cities and the coastal city of Alexandria.

The opposition believes that with sheer numbers in the street, it can pressure Morsi to step down — perhaps with the added weight of the powerful military if it signals the president should go. But Islamists have vowed to defend Morsi.

In an interview published Sunday in The Guardian, Morsi said he had no plans to meet the protesters' demand for early presidential election.

"If we changed someone in office who (was elected) according to constitutional legitimacy — well, there will (be) people or opponents opposing the new president too, and a week or a month later, they will ask him to step down," Morsi told the British daily.

"There is no room for any talk against this constitutional legitimacy," he said.

As the crowds swelled in Tahrir, birthplace of the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak, traffic in the normally capital's normally clogged streets was light at midday as many residents chose to stay home for fear of violence. Banks were closing early and most government departments were either closed for the day or were thinly staffed.

Thousands of Morsi's supporters have staged a sit-in since Friday in front of the Rabia al-Adawiya Mosque near the Ittihadiya presidential palace. In the evening, anti-Morsi crowds plan to march on the palace, and Morsi supporters have vowed to defend it if it is attacked.

The opposition protests emerge from a petition campaign by a youth activist group known as Tamarod, Arabic for "rebel." For several months, the group has been collecting signatures on a call for Morsi to step down. On Saturday the group announced it had more than 22 million signatures — proof, it claims, that a broad sector of the public no longer wants Morsi in office.

It was not possible to verify the claim. Morsi's supporters have questioned the authenticity and validity of the signatures, but have produced no evidence of fraud.

Morsi, who has three years left in his presidential term, claims that Mubarak loyalists are behind the planned protests. His supporters say Tamarod is a cover for thugs loyal to Mubarak.

The 22 million signatures, while they have no legal weight, deal a symbolic blow to Morsi at a time when he is widely seen by Egyptians to have failed to tackle the country's most pressing problems, from surging crime rates and high unemployment to fuel shortages and power outages.

If verified, the number of people who signed the petition calling on Morsi to step down would be nearly twice the number who voted for him a year ago in a run-off that he won with around 52 percent of the vote.

Adding to his troubles, eight lawmakers from the country's interim legislature announced their resignation Saturday to protest Morsi's policies. The 270-seat chamber was elected early last year by less than 10 percent of Egypt's eligible voters, and is dominated by Islamists.

A legal adviser to Morsi also announced his resignation late Saturday in protest of what he said was Morsi's insult of judges in his latest speech on Wednesday.

With a sense of doom hanging over the country, Defense Minister Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi last week gave the president and his opponents a week to reach a compromise and warned that the military would intervene to prevent the nation from entering a "dark tunnel."

Morsi had called for national reconciliation talks in a Wednesday speech but offered no specifics. Opposition leaders dismissed the call as cosmetics.

Asked by The Guardian whether he was confident that the army would not intervene if the country becomes ungovernable, Morsi replied, "Very."

The Egyptian leader, however, said he did not know in advance of el-Sissi's last week's comments.

1
Text Only
Nation & World
  • Economy [Duplicate] US job growth eases but tops 200K for a sixth month A sixth straight month of solid 200,000-plus job growth in July reinforced growing evidence that the U.S. economy is accelerating after five years of sluggish expansion.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • Israel pushes deeper in Gaza after soldier seized Backed by tank fire and airstrikes, Israeli forces pushed deep into southern Gaza on Friday, searching for an Israeli army officer believed to be captured by Hamas fighters during deadly clashes that shattered an internationally brokered cease-fire.

    August 1, 2014

  • Gas Prices [Duplicate] Rare summer relief for gasoline prices The gasoline price roller coaster is running a strange course this summer.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_immigratonreform.jpg House GOP weighs tough new immigration bills

    House Republicans pushed legislation on Friday that would clear the way for eventual deportation of more than 500,000 immigrants brought here illegally as kids and address the surge of immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Semi crash coats I-465 in butter

    A semitrailer has overturned on an Indianapolis interstate, spilling what police say are 45,000 pounds of packages of butter and other dairy products.

    August 1, 2014

  • Investigators make it to Ukraine jet crash site

    As fighting raged in eastern Ukraine, an international team of investigators on Thursday reached the crash site of the Malaysia Airline Flight 17 and got a first look at where it was brought down by a missile two weeks ago.

    July 31, 2014

  • Ticket me Elmo? NYC mulls law for impersonators

     New York City officials are turning up the heat on Elmo, Cookie Monster and Statue of Liberty impersonators — Times Square costumed characters who often demand money for posing in photos with tourists.

    July 30, 2014

  • US economy grew at strong 4 percent rate in spring

    After a dismal winter, the U.S. economy sprang back to life in the April-June quarter, growing at a fast 4 percent annual rate on the strength of higher consumer and business spending.

    July 30, 2014

  • Broken water main floods UCLA; 5 people rescued

    A broken water main near the UCLA campus Tuesday sent a geyser of water some 30 feet into the air, trapping people in underground parking garages and covering some of the best-known parts of campus in water, including the school's famed basketball arena.

    July 30, 2014

  • Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

    More than 35 percent of Americans have debts and unpaid bills that have been reported to collection agencies, according to a study released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

    July 29, 2014