Cairo police cracked down on the swelling masses on Tahrir Square with teargas as they protested President Morsi’s new powers. Over 200 thousand recently flooded Cairo’s center, calling for Morsi to veto decrees vastly expanding his power.
Officers fired on protesters near Omar Makram Mosque on Tahrir Square on Wednesday morning.
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators chanted “Leave, leave” and “Down with the regime,” wrote Cairo-based journalist Bel Trew on Twitter.
“A running street battle has been going on in the streets around Tahrir Square between a large group of largely young male protesters and the police,” reported RT’s Tom Barton from Cairo.
Violence continued throughout the night with protesters pelting police with their own teargas canisters, lighting fires and creating make-shift roadblocks with torn up sections of pavement, he said.
A200,000-strong rally descended upon Tahrir Square on Tuesday, demanding the country’s Islamist president recall a decree granting him new, sweeping powers. Egypt’s highest judicial body has accused Morsi of mounting an attack on it, a spokesperson has told the press.
One man was killed in the ensuing violence on Tuesday as demonstrators clashed with police. Activists say he died from over-exposure to teargas.
Elsewhere in Egypt protesters stormed President Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party headquarters in the second-largest city, Alexandria.
President Mohamed Morsi has attempted to allay rising tensions and comparisons with authoritarian ex-President Hosni Mubarak, who was deposed nearly two years ago by mass uprisings. Morsi has assured that the powers he granted himself over the weekend are temporary are necessary in order to establish a new constitution and parliamentary elections.
“The presidency reiterates the temporary nature of these measures, which are not intended to concentrate power,” Morsi said in a statement.
Mohammed ElBaradei, Egypt’s opposition leader said that Morsi had become the country’s “new pharaoh” and that his new powers were a violation of democratic principles.
Morsi defended his decree, saying that he was acting fully within his rights as President when it was issued. The edict that was passed on Thursday effectively makes Morsi’s decisions immune to judicial review until a new constitution has been laid down.
Morsi has also extended the deadline for Egypt’s new constitution for another two months. The Islamist-dominated constituent assembly is drafting the document at present.
The Muslim Brotherhood and hardline Salafi parties have planned counterdemonstrations across Egypt on Saturday to show their support for Morsi.