Egypt's anti-Morsi 'Rebel' campaign says it has gathered 15 mn signatures

Osman El Sharnoubi, Thursday 20 Jun 2013

'Rebel' signature drive claims to have collected 15 million citizens' endorsements in support of its calls for President Morsi's ouster and snap presidential elections

Supporters of the Rebel campaign gather at a conference in Qalioubiya province, Egypt, (Photo: Rebel campaign).

Egypt's opposition 'Rebel' signature campaign on Thursday announced that it had reached its target of 15 million citizens' signatures in support of a "withdrawal of confidence" from Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

At a conference convened in Egypt's Qalioubiya governorate north of Cairo, campaign co-founder Mahmoud Badr declared that the initiative had collected over 15 million signatures endorsing its position, according the campaign's official Facebook page.

Launched in May, the 'Rebel' campaign quickly gained momentum as anti-Morsi sentiment grew amid growing political polarisation and a persistent economic downturn during Morsi's first year in office.

The Muslim Brotherhood – from which Morsi hails – remains under fire for its perceived failure to make any progress since coming to power. The Brotherhood also holds a majority in Egypt's upper house of parliament, which is temporarily endowed with legislative powers.

The presidency, for its part, rejects claims that it has failed to govern the country, publishing a report on Wednesday claiming to have made progress in several areas.

The 'Rebel' campaign is based on the assertion that Morsi is carrying out policies identical to those of ousted president Hosni Mubarak. It is now calling for mass demonstrations on 30 June to call for snap presidential elections.

Morsi's supporters, meanwhile, have launched a counter-campaign, members of which claim to have collected ten million signatures in support of the president.

They argue that Morsi was democratically elected, saying the president's critics are legally obliged to wait until the end of his term when they will have a chance to vote him out of office.

'Rebel' founders, for their part, argue that Egypt is still in the throes of revolution, and refuse to wait another three years for Egypt's next presidential poll.

Fears of violence

Amid growing fears of violence on 30 June, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies are planning a counter-rally on Friday dubbed "No to violence," in which they plan to promote "peaceful" means of protest.

The Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party said in a recent statement that they would hold leaders of the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) responsible for any outbreak of violence during upcoming demonstrations.

While the 'Rebel' campaign is supported by the NSF, it is independent of it. Founders of the campaign stress that it is a peaceful movement.

At Thursday's conference, the campaign said it would request the United Nations – as an "impartial" party – to count the signatures it had collected to ensure their authenticity.

Morsi and the Brotherhood, meanwhile, say there is no legal or constitutional basis for holding early presidential elections. The 'Rebel' campaign, however, insists on its legitimacy and intends to present its signatures to Egypt's High Constitutional Court on 30 June.

Organisers say the 15 million votes – two million more than the votes garnered by Morsi in the final round of last year's presidential elections – represent a majority of Egyptians who want Morsi out of office.

Several clashes between Brotherhood members and supporters and 'Rebel' campaigners have been reported nationwide within the past month. 

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