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Alastair Macdonald, Alexander Dziadosz05 Jul 2013 07:24
Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi. (AFP)
Islamist supporters of Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi will rally on Friday to express their outrage at his overthrow by the army and to reject a planned interim government backed by their liberal opponents.
Dozens of people were wounded in clashes in Morsi's home city of Zagazig on Thursday, raising fears of more of the violence in which several dozen have died in the past month. There were also militant attacks in the restive Sinai peninsula, next to Israel.
How the army deals with trouble will help determine future support for Cairo from the United States and other international powers.
Concern that the generals have carried out a military coup against Egypt's first-ever freely elected leader has left Washington reviewing the $1.5-billion in military and civilian aid it gives Egypt annually.
The planned protests have been labelled "Friday of Rejection".
A military source responded by saying "We will continue to secure the places of protest with troops, and jets if necessary, to make sure the pro- and anti-Morsi demonstrators don't confront each other.
Morsi's political opponents insist there was no coup. They claim that the army heeded the "will of the people" in forcing the president out. Millions rallied on Sunday to protest a collapsing economy and political deadlock, in which Morsi had failed to build a broad consensus after a year in office.
The Egyptian armed forces command issued a late-night statement on Thursday guaranteeing rights to protest and free expression and pledging not to pursue arbitrary measures against any political group.
In addition to Morsi, the country's first freely elected leader, several senior figures in his Muslim Brotherhood were arrested, security sources said. Prosecutors were investigating various charges, including incitement to violence and, in the case of Morsi himself, insulting the judiciary.
Television channels owned by, or seen as sympathetic to, the Brotherhood were unceremoniously taken off air. The state printer did not run off its party newspaper on Thursday.
In Zagazig, the Nile Delta city where Morsi has a family home, 80 people were injured. Witnesses said the army moved in to seal the area after an attack on pro-Morsi protesters by men on motorcycles led to clashes with sticks, knives and bottles.
Early on Friday, security sources and state television said Islamist gunmen opened fire on El-Arish airport, close to the border with the Gaza Strip and Israel and at three military checkpoints. A police station in Rafah on the Gaza border was hit by rockets, wounding several soldiers.
It was not clear whether the coordinated attack on several army positions was in response to Morsi's overthrow.
Morsi's dramatic exit was greeted with delight by millions of jubilant people on the streets of Cairo and other cities on Wednesday evening, but there was simmering resentment among Egyptians who opposed the military intervention.
Following the swearing in of Mansour as interim head of state, the next step in the army's road map back to democracy is the formation of an interim government in the next few days. One state newspaper said it should be ready on Sunday.
After that, a panel is to revise the constitution in order to hold parliamentary and presidential elections. – Reuters
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