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Egyptians Plan More Rival Protests

  • VOA News

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans at a sit-in in Nasser City, suburb of Cairo, July 7, 2013.

Supporters of Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans at a sit-in in Nasser City, suburb of Cairo, July 7, 2013.

Supporters and opponents of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi planned more demonstrations Sunday in Cairo, just two days after violent clashes between the two groups left more than 30 people dead.

VOA correspondent Sharon Behn is in Cairo and says neither side appears to be backing down.

"What I see is that the two sides are basically really hardening their stances, and neither one of them seems able to budge. And the pro-Morsi Muslim Brotherhood supporters, they're saying that they will not participate in any kind of national reconciliation, that Morsi was democratically elected, and he should be reinstated," she said.

Egypt's military detained Morsi - the nation's first democratically-elected president - and arrested other leaders of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Wednesday. The military said the actions were necessary to prevent a mass uprising by Morsi's opponents, who have accused him of betraying the 2011 revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak and his 30-year rule.

Behn says the group known as "Rebel," which has been organizing the anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir Square, is planning a large demonstration in the square Sunday to celebrate what protesters are calling the "second revolution."

"Yesterday, when I went down to the square, [...] things were kind of festive [...]. There were lots of families and little food carts and so on," she said. "But yesterday, they were not calling what happened on Wednesday a coup. They said, 'This is our glorious second revolution,' and that 'this is great and we're never going back.'"

After ousting Morsi, the military suspended the constitution, ordered new elections and appointed an interim president -- Adly Mansour.

But Morsi's supporters are refusing to accept the removal of their leader. Behn says members of the Muslim Brotherhood have told her they have many "surprises" in store. Though they would not specify what those were, she says it is clear they are not giving up their fight to get Morsi back in power.

The capital has calmed down since Friday's clashes, but the city remains tense and there are fears of renewed violence.

"Yesterday actually I went out to where the Muslim Brotherhood gathers, which is near one of the large mosques here in Cairo. And there were a lot of people there, and a lot of them with construction hard hats and pretty large sticks, and they said 'Oh no, these are just for our security.' And when we tried to film that, they all hid their sticks behind their backs. They didn't want to be seen with that. They're saying that anytime that things get violent, they're just defending themselves. They're not agreeing with the fact that they're the ones doing any of the attacking. It's really hard to tell who attacks who[m] when it comes to these street skirmishes," said VOA correspondent Sharon Behn.

The Muslim Brotherhood held at least one small demonstration Sunday morning, with more expected later.

The interim government appeared to hit a snag Saturday with the retraction of an announcement that pro-reform leader Mohamed ElBaradei would be made interim prime minister.

Opposition officials had said Saturday that ElBaradei was summoned by Mansour and would be sworn in as interim prime minister later in the day, only to have a spokesman for the interim president tell reporters later that consultations were continuing and deny the appointment of the Nobel Peace laureate was ever certain. The reversal came after Islamists who joined the coalition against Morsi threatened to withdraw their support if ElBaradei entered the post.

In Washington, President Barack Obama expressed concern over Egypt's continued political polarization. He reiterated that the United States is not aligned with and does not support any particular Egyptian political party or group.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the U.S. wants to see Egypt's ongoing democratic transition succeed. He said the only solution to the current impasse is for all parties to "work together peacefully" to address Egyptians' concerns and needs, and to ensure Egypt has a government that is responsive to the aspirations of those who have taken to the streets.

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