News / Africa

    Protesters Clash in Cairo, More Presidential Advisers Quit

    Protesters opposed to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi evacuate and injured fellow protester during clashes between supporters of president Mohammed Morsi and their rivals in front of the president palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.
    Protesters opposed to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi evacuate and injured fellow protester during clashes between supporters of president Mohammed Morsi and their rivals in front of the president palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012.
    Edward YeranianVOA News
    Supporters and opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi battled late Wednesday in Cairo with rocks and firebombs, as three key presidential advisors quit to protest the president's handling of the country's constitutional crisis.

    Reporting from the scene, VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott said the new violence erupted when Morsi's Islamist supporters attacked demonstrators protesting what they describe as a presidential power grab.

    "I've seen Molotov cocktails, people armed with iron bars and rocks, some people even pulling branches off of trees in terms of trying to find some kind of weapon to fight with, the crowds pushing back and forth and there are reports of live ammunition being used and again, unconfirmed reports of casualties, of fatalities among the people who are fighting," she said.
     
    Arrott said most of the presidential supporters are men with beards typical of members of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, while opponents of the president appeared younger and had some women present. 

    As clashes continued late Wednesday, there were reports of Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacking journalists outside the presidential palace.  Separately, three more presidential advisors announced their resignations to protest the decrees granting Mr. Morsi expanded powers. Five of the president's 17 advisors have quit since November 22.

    Opposition protesters want Morsi to abolish a decree he issued last month granting himself sweeping powers that place him above review by the judiciary. Many also oppose a new draft constitution drawn up by a mainly Islamist committee. The draft is set for a December 15 referendum.

    • Supporters of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chant slogans during a demonstration outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 5, 2012.
    • A supporter of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi chants slogans during clashes with opponents, not pictured, outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 5, 2012.
    • Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters beat an opponent, center, during clashes outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 5, 2012.
    • Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s supporters clash with opponents, not pictured, outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 5, 2012.
    • Egyptian protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 5, 2012.
    • An Egyptian protester with Arabic writing on his forehead that reads, "Muslims and Christians, one hand," attends a demonstration outside the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 5, 2012.
    • A young boy waves a national flag from his mother's shoulders as protesters chant slogans in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 4, 2012.
    • Anti-Morsi protesters run from smoke from a tear gas canister thrown by riot police, during clashes in front of the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, December 4, 2012.
    • Protesters chant slogans and wave national flags in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt, December 4, 2012.
    • People walk between tents belonging to anti-Morsi protesters, in Tahrir square, Cairo, Egypt, December 4, 2012.
    • Protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a rally in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, December 4, 2012.
    • Protesters chant anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a rally in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, December 4, 2012.
    • Riot police stand guard behind barbed wire while protesters chant anti Muslim Brotherhood slogans during a demonstration in front of the presidential palace, in Cairo, Egypt, December 4, 2012.

    Clinton urges talks

    Earlier in Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the rival sides to hold a dialogue with each other, rather than try to impose their views on each other.

    “The upheaval that we are seeing now, once again, in the streets of Cairo and of other cities indicates that dialogue is urgently needed, and it needs to be a two-way dialogue, not one side talking at another side," she said.

    Clinton also urged Egypt's new leadership to work to craft a new constitution via a “process that is open, transparent and fair” and doesn't “favor one group over any other.”

    Egyptian Vice President Mahmoud Mekki told a news conference that it is possible to reach a compromise over a number of contentious points in the draft constitution, but that the referendum to approve the document would go ahead as planned later this month.

    Mekki said that 10 or 12 clauses at most are under dispute and that it could be possible to work out a compromise over them in the days leading up to the vote.  He said the president granted himself extraordinary powers to address the “critical situation through which the country is passing,” saying that it was a response to “calls by the people for stability.”

    Long protests

    On Tuesday, Egyptian riot police fired tear gas outside the presidential palace, where tens of thousands of protesters had gathered while Morsi was inside conducting business.

    Police tried to stop the crowd from storming the palace but soon retreated and let the marchers through a barrier and up to the palace walls. Egyptian officials say president left the palace during the march.

    Many of the marchers chanted the same anti-government slogans used in the uprising that toppled former authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak.

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    by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
    December 05, 2012 10:37 PM
    Well it looks like a new dictatorship is in the making; I guess we can expect hundredths of thousands of people loosing their rights, millions will be displaced... Potentially it could be much worse than the dictatorship it replaced. Civil war around the corner...I guess, as usual, the army will need to step in and save Egypt. Notwithstanding all the promisses about "a national gvmt and all inclusive democracy", before Morsi/Co were elected. At the first opportunity Morsi declared himself the new pharoe.... And as usual women excercising free speech, if the news are correct, a female is the first casualty(murdered by some coward). Religeous minorities will be the next on the list of victims, and will be sent packing. Essentially it looks like the new ways are the old ways = no real change.

    by: Jimbo
    December 05, 2012 8:10 PM
    The blood will flow until Egypt is declared an Islamist republic with laws based on sharia. Then the blood will really start to flow....
    In Response

    by: Selim from: Sydney
    December 06, 2012 1:14 AM
    I don’t think Egypt and the Egyptians need a president
    I think Egypt needs an elected Prime Minister rather than a president with a specific agenda to tackle issues like Economy, Unemployment, internal security and Human rights. Terms of service of round 2 years. A president maybe appointed by the Prime Minister to serve in a ceremonial role rather than becoming drunk with power as in the current situation.
    President Morsi, in less than 3 months managed to divide his people and the nation, right in the middle
    President Morsi is only supported by the extreme right not for anything other than his Islamic agenda
    What we have seen so far is simply political hooliganism not Democracy
    I would like to see the opposition in Parliament on TV not on the streets of Cairo!!
    Democracy is not just demonstrations and vote. These are just the apparent features of it . The rest have never been practiced in Egypt since the British occupation.
    Before replacing the constitution, Egyptians should review and upgrade their stand on human rights and how to device a document or a declarations that would comply with international standards.

    In Response

    by: NIck from: NYC
    December 06, 2012 12:10 AM
    And Obama is smiling ear to ear- the Egyptian people will need to suffer due to their election of this man. Kind of sound familiar? The Arab Spring- and as time goes by the sad reality of it will continue to disappoint.
    In Response

    by: tpv from: texas
    December 05, 2012 11:38 PM
    Arm both sides, let 'em fight it out. Burn, baby, burn!

    by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago
    December 05, 2012 7:09 PM
    There were free and fair elections after the Egyptian Revolution, and the parliament elected - along with the president elected, Mr. Morsi, will determine the course of the post-revolutionary direction of the Egyptian government. That is democracy: The majority rules, and the opposition presents its complaints in the parliament - if any- not in the streets!


    What we see in Egypt today, however, is an effort by the losers of the elections to dictate what the winners should do! I guess that since the protesters overthrew Mubarak, they think now that "They" are the "Supreme" power in Egypt! In short, "street mobs" rule is "Supreme" - both against the former dictator, and against the newly elected leaders! Nikos Retsos, retired professor
    In Response

    by: Allan
    December 06, 2012 3:45 AM
    "What we see in Egypt today, however, is an effort by the losers of the elections to dictate what the winners should do!"

    That is NOT the fact. The fact is they are trying to prevent the islamist groups to make the constitution based on Islam. The Islamic groups in egypt are following the footsteps of the Iranian islamic groups who established a dictatorship regime step by step that now not only doesn't let any voice inside iran _but themselves _ by all inhuman means, but exports its extreme views and terrorists worldwide. World should wake up! Do we need another islamic terrorist state??!! maybe ??!!
    In Response

    by: haios from: SF
    December 06, 2012 2:25 AM
    you wrong on all counts. He won elections, yes, but it does not give him the right to ignore the law and grant himself unchecked powers. You DO NOT create a constitution unfair from the office, and good only for muslims, and expect the other people to take it silently, unless you want to make the conflict permanent and cause civil war by constitution.

    by: David Tamanini from: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
    December 05, 2012 6:45 PM
    As an attorney, I understand the US Constitution and it was made to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. This is our constitution that is very difficult to change requiring a 2/3 vote of the congress and a 3/4 vote of the people. I read the proposed new Egyptian Constitution and it is easy for a super majority to change it, and it does not give blanket protections for minority groups. Although the secularists are a vocal minority, I believe they are mostly seeking protection from abuses in the future by the minority and the passion it brings to its point of view.
    In Response

    by: david tamanini from: harrisburg
    December 08, 2012 5:04 PM
    For purposes of clarity, my last sentence should have said: Although the secularists are a vocal minority, I believe they are mostly seeking protection from abuses in the future by the majority ( not minority)and the passion it brings to its point of view.
    In Response

    by: Redcliff from: Aus
    December 06, 2012 5:58 AM
    You will be wasting your time trying to apply your understanding of the US constitution to any part of the Middle East. It just doesn't work. All you get is more stress and distress.

    by: Romildo Caldas from: Brazil
    December 05, 2012 3:39 PM
    Only Dialogue is the way to achieve Peace and Union among Egyptians. To reach these goals, egyptians need to renounce egoistic targets. Egypt as a nation, has to be the heart of the Effort towards Democracy.

    by: Trying to Understand from: USA
    December 05, 2012 1:06 PM
    Here we go again. I dont see anything any different than with any other islamic country. Total disarray here. When you are on display to the world to show your democratic government works, this isnt what you should see. When will these nations ever learn that the islamist governments are dictatorships? The age of a dictatorship is over. People just arent that stupid anymore. No you cant have my sons and daughters to fight your wars either. Good Luck!

    by: Faizal from: Toronto
    December 05, 2012 10:26 AM
    The World has to realize that Egypt has 100 million people and a million or so secularist does not represent the opinion of the nation. The Islamist have tens of millions of supporters, almost all of rural Egypt backs the Islamist, not to mention the millions upon millions in urban areas. With every democracy comes opposition, there is no such scenario in which everyone is happy in a democracy.
    In Response

    by: Tu mama from: NoToronto
    December 06, 2012 12:11 AM
    The people of egypt despite of any political view and religions, had been through to much suffer to reach democracy... That strong movement that involved people of all kind shouldnt be vanished for a group , even if it is majority.. that seeks control over others or to impose their ideas by laws....over the minority... that is not democracy, that is tiranny, they will rechange the rules, they will become corrupted,, and they will become the oppose from what the world goes for the future INCLUSION, FREE RIGHTS FOR EVERYONE DESPITE RELIGION, RACE, ORIGIN, CULTURE...
    In Response

    by: jack dick from: USA
    December 05, 2012 12:50 PM
    If you read the News, 25 Million were thought to march and protest yesterday; quite a bit more than the million ou spoke of.

    by: AspenFreePress from: Aspen, Co.
    December 05, 2012 10:24 AM
    Sounds like "rent a mob" on both sides.
    Sterling Greenwood

    by: Michael from: USA
    December 05, 2012 8:26 AM
    The problem I see is that there is as of yet no integral understanding of the Egyptian situation, neither inside the country nor outside. Each individual has her view. This might be enough to solve the governmental problems, thus the logic in democratic vote where the individual puts forth her outlook

    by: ali baba from: new york
    December 05, 2012 5:30 AM
    the country which known of egypt is dead.moresy refused to understand the need of egyptian people.he put the last nail in Egypt coffin. there is no way that egypt will stable ,safe country again.once this crisis is over,the other crisis again,more riots .more blood shed . moersy has not make any policy to absord the anger of common people instead he flames the situation to shift the counry into islamic state .and make hardship for people make their living on tourism .
    islam is not the solution.islam is a prescription for disater. and people witness it in Sudan when the country still in civil war .Labonan is the same. and Egypt in the horizon
    In Response

    by: Gransa
    December 05, 2012 11:58 PM
    Egypt's election has been scammed thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood meddling with the candidate. The candidate to be president was a good one, peaceful and fair to Christians and Muslims, but he was replaced by Morsi at the last minute.

    Democracy isn't possible. Democracy being for the people.

    But if one or many people have evil intentions, or put their belief, which is Islam, with their use of violence instead of peace, then democracy needs to be fixed.

    Muslim Brotherhood Supporters and members, wake up and stop fighting. You should be serving all the people, not dividing.

    Just go work. If you care about your country, stop protesting. Your economy has gone to shits because of it.

    You want something done? You want change? You have to work on the education system and battle irrational muslim extremists and extremists in general.
    Comments page of 2
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