Egyptian army steps up presence in Port Said ahead of 30 June protests

Ahram Online, Wednesday 26 Jun 2013

Egyptian armed forces received by cheering locals in the Suez Canal city as security measures are put in place ahead of 30 June protests

The Egyptian army has reinforced its presence in the Egyptian Suez Canal city of Port Said in the run up to widely-anticipated anti-government protests on 30 June.

A number of armoured vehicles toured the city's main streets on Wednesday afternoon, before parking in front of the governorate headquarters. The forces were received with cheers by residents.

The army has been deployed in key locations in Port Said since January, following riots that erupted after the trial of those accused in the Port Said football killings in 2012. Twenty one people from Port Said were sentenced to death in the case. After violent protests, President Mohamed Morsi announced a state of emergency in the Suez Canal region.

Egypt is bracing for the highly anticipated anti-government protests on 30 June, called for by signature drive 'Rebel', which aims at withdrawing confidence from the president and holding snap elections.

The campaign, which has gathered 15 million endorsements to exceed the number of votes amassed by Morsi last year, accuses the president of "failing to implement policies to improve the life of ordinary people," citing Egypt's increasingly dire economic situation.

Some Egyptians are calling for the army – which was in charge of the country for an interim period following the 25 January revolution – to take over power for a temporary period and appoint a new government, in the event that Morsi resigns.

Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, was elected in June 2012 after narrowly beating contender and Mubarak regime figure Ahmed Shafiq.

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