In Cairo's Tahrir Square for Morsi speech, protesters divided on army intervention

Mai Shaheen , Wednesday 26 Jun 2013

Demonstrators converge on Tahrir Square for President Morsi's anticipated address, but crowds appear divided on role of armed forces should embattled president step down

Tahrir square
Protesters in Tahrir Square waiting for Morsi's speech (Photo: Mai Shaheen)

A few thousand protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square Wednesday eveningin anticipation of a national address by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi scheduled for 9:30pm.

Opinions in Cairo's flashpoint protest venue varied regarding the prospect of possible military intervention in Egypt's fraught political stage.

According to Ahram Online correspondents at the scene, a number of placards bore pro-army slogans, including the standard 'The people and the army are one hand' – an oft-voiced slogan during and after Egypt's 2011 uprising.

A smaller group of people arrayed in the square, however, repeated chants against the army, rejecting suggestions that the armed forces reassume administration of the nation's affairs in the event that Morsi step down.

Some Egyptians are calling on the army to assume executive authority for a temporary period and to appoint a new 'national unity government' if Morsi is toppled.

Egypt's Supreme Military Council ran the country from former president Hosni Mubarak's February 2011 ouster until Morsi's assumption of the presidency one year ago.

Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood group, narrowly defeated Ahmed Shafiq – Mubarak's last prime minister – in Egypt's first-ever free presidential election in June 2012.

Mass protests against Morsi's presidency are planned for next Sunday by Egypt's anti-government 'Rebel' campaign, a signature drive aimed at "withdrawing confidence" from the president and demand snap presidential polls.

As of 9pm Wednesday night, Tahrir Square protesters had erected makeshift checkpoints, blocking traffic through the square.

Meanwhile, hundreds have gathered in front of defence ministry headquarters in the eastern Cairo district of Abbasiya to demand that Defence Minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi take over power from President Morsi.

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