Egypt opposition forces gear up for more anti-govt rallies on Friday

Ayat Al-Tawy, Thursday 31 Jan 2013

Opposition parties, 'revolutionary' movements call for yet another round of Friday demonstrations against President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt's newly-approved constitution

Political forces gear up for Friday a
Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi march despite a nighttime curfew in the city of Suez January 28, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

At a Thursday press conference held at Egyptian Popular Current headquarters, 16 political parties and movements announced plans to take part in nationwide protests on Friday.

Calls for the demonstrations were originally issued by the National Salvation Front (NSF), Egypt's largest opposition bloc.

The NSF announced that "peaceful marches" would set out for the Presidential Palace in Cairo's Heliopolis district to reiterate "demands of the revolution." Among these are the dismissal of the current government, amendment of the recently-approved constitution and the appointment of a new prosecutor-general.

In a statement, political forces taking part in the conference condemned the alleged "use of the same repressive security practices employed by the old regime to suppress Egyptians' resentment against President Morsi's policies and the Muslim Brotherhood," the group from which the president hails.

"The revolutionary wave of resentment that has swept Egypt to denounce the repressive policies of the ruling regime will go on despite...repeated attempts to extinguish the revolution using violence and thuggery," read the statement.

Parties and groups that took part in the conference included the Egyptian Popular Current, the Popular Socialist Alliance, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the April 6 youth movement (Democratic Front), the Free Egyptians Party, the Revolutionary Socialist Party, the Karama Party, the Kefaya movement and the National Association For Change.

The statement held President Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the current government responsible for recent unrest and bloodshed.

The statement also bashed the 'national dialogue' Morsi called for earlier this week, calling it "hollow and desultory," stressing that no dialogue could be held while violence was raging.

On Twitter, NSF leader Mohamed ElBaradei wrote: "Unless the president takes responsibility for the bloody events and pledges to form a government of national salvation and a balanced committee to amend the constitution, any dialogue will be a waste of time."

Several anti-Morsi rallies are scheduled for Cairo on Friday. According to a Thursday statement, "peaceful marches" will set out towards the Presidential Palace from the Nour Mosque in the Abbasiya district and Nasr City's Raba El-Adawiya Mosque.

In a Thursday statement, the April 6 youth movement (Democratic Front) announced plans to take part in marches to the Presidential Palace and a march from Manyal's Basha Mosque to Tahrir Square. The group called on protesters to dress in black, claiming that protests would be peaceful in nature.

"The party rejects sabotage engineered by the militias of some groups, who shift the blame for their violence onto others," the statement asserted.

Meanwhile, 12 professional syndicates – including the doctors', teachers' and lawyers' syndicates – voiced sympathy with calls for Friday's anti-government protests.

In advance of Friday's rallies, a number of "revolutionary" forces – including the Constitution Party, the Egyptian Popular Current and April 6 (Democratic Front) – also plan to organise a march on Thursday afternoon.

The March will depart from Cairo's Sayeda Zeinab Mosque to Tahrir Square and is geared towards mobilising the public in the run-up to Friday's planned rallies.

Additional rallies are expected in other governorates across the country, including Alexandria, Suez, Ismailia, Mansoura, Damanhour, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Qena, Fayoum and Aswan.

Ali Ameen, Wafd Party leader in Suez, announced that the NSF – in conjunction with other "revolutionary forces" – would take part in Friday's protests.  Marches in Suez, which has been the scene of deadly clashes in recent days, are planned to set out from the canal city's Arbaeen Square.

The canal city of Ismailia, meanwhile, will also host a march, which will set out from Ismailia's Fardous Square to the governor's office.

The three cities of Egypt's Suez Canal are currently subject to a month-long state of emergency declared by President Mohamed Morsi on Sunday following three days of deadly unrest. Morsi later, however, allowed the governors of the three cities to ease the curfew in their respective cities in accordance with the local security situation.

Ismailia and Suez have both witnessed anti-government protests and sporadic clashes since the second anniversary of Egypt's January 25 Revolution on Friday. In Suez, nine people – including one police conscript – were killed, while at least one civilian was killed in Ismailia.

On Saturday, a criminal court sentenced 21 Port Said residents to death for their involvement in last February's Port Said stadium disaster, in which scores of football fans were killed. The harsh verdicts prompted riots and clashes in the already-tense city, in which 37 people were reported killed.

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