Egypt: Morsi calls for dialogue as violence claims five lives
Cairo: After a night of widespread violence that saw five deaths of five people and left over 600 people injured, Egyptian President Morsi has called for a meeting with the opposition on Saturday.
Morsi acknowledged that people have the right to raise their voice, but he alleged that protests are staged and people are paid to formant trouble.
Morsi addressed the Egyptian people through a television speech and expressed his sorrow over the death and violence.
The police have arrested 80 people for instigating violence, said the Egyptian PM in his speech.
Egyptian army today deployed tanks outside the Presidential Palace and ordered rampaging mobs to clear the area after overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi killed at least five people and left nearly 700 injured.
Tanks and armored cars were positioned outside the Presidential Palace as hundreds of Mursi's supporters chanted slogans in his favour, amid growing unrest over a controversial draft Constitution.
The Egyptian army then began to clear the area around the presidential palace ordering demonstrators and media organisations to vacate the place.
It followed violent overnight clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mursi that left five people dead and 644 injured, media reports said.
Violence continued today as Mursi's opponents attacked the headquarters of the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm, in several cities.
However, there was no word on it from the Presidency which said Mursi is likely to deliver a speech shortly.
Also today, Egypt's top Islamic body called on Mursi to suspend a decree in which he claimed sweeping powers and demanded an unconditional dialogue between the president and his opponents.
The Al-Azhar institution said, Mursi should "suspend the latest decree and stop using it," in a statement.
By this morning, the Republican Guard had deployed at least 10 tanks and troops outside the palace.
Supporters of Mursi responded to a call to rally outside the Presidential Palace yesterday, while the mainly secular opponents of the President were already staging a sit-in protest there.
Protesters fired guns and threw firebombs and rocks at each other as stand-off over Mursi's expanded powers continued.
Riot police were finally sent in to control the situation, but clashes still took place in side streets near the presidential compound yesterday.
Four Mursi advisers have resigned over the crisis, official news agency MENA reported.
The head of state television has also quit in protest, the Al-Masry al-Youm reported.
Vice President Mahmoud Mekki said yesterday the vote on the draft Constitution was still scheduled for 15 December. He, however, added that the "door for dialogue" remained open.
Egyptian diplomatic missions have announced that they will boycott supervision of the referendum on the Constitution if it goes ahead as planned on December 15.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders and their supporters, meanwhile, headed to the Presidential Palace to express support for Mursi.
The Brotherhood announced that one of their members was among the five people killed in the clashes.
Separately, the National Salvation Front led by Mohamed Al-Baradei denounced the violence and noted that they were ready for any form of peaceful escalation, including civil disobedience.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders blamed the remnants of the former regime of Hosni Mubarak for the violent incidents.
The draft Constitution has added to the anger over Mursi passing a decree in late November which granted him sweeping new powers.
Reports reaching here said the headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party in Ismalilya was set on fire. A similar incident was reported from the city of Zagazig in delta region.
Private TV stations postponed their planned black out in view of escalating tensions, a day after 11 newspapers withheld their editions in protest against the Constitutional declaration which immunises the president, Constituent Assembly as well as the Shura Council from the judiciary.
(PHOTO: Protesters chant slogans against Egypt's President Mursi in front of a barbed wire barricade guarded by a tank outside the presidential palace in Cairo. Reuters)
(With PTI inputs)