independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

Protests threatened at Egypt polling stations

Egypt's opposition threatened to take protests against the country's proposed new constitution directly to polling stations after President Mohammed Morsi ordered the army to protect Saturday's referendum.

The National Salvation Front, a coalition of liberal and secular opposition parties, will meet this morning to put forward a united approach to the constitutional vote. Their decision will be followed by rallies by both pro- and anti- Muslim Brotherhood groups, which many fear will lead to a repeat of clashes last week in which at least seven people were killed.

The front has so far failed to decide whether to argue for a "no" vote or a boycott. Hussein Abdelghani, its spokesman, said taking to the polling stations to confront voters directly was a third option. "We are going to ask followers to go on the streets," he said. "We are not going to be slaves again."

Mr Morsi has so far faced down demands that the referendum be delayed. The constitution was drawn up by an Islamist-dominated assembly.

Mr Abdelghani's call for protests to extend to the polling stations is a challenge to the army, whose new policing powers include the return of powers to arrest civilians. These were dropped after Mubarak-era martial law, but were reinstated by Mr Morsi.

The first test of the army's new powers comes today as the security forces try to keep "million-man marches" by the opposition and the Muslim Brotherhood apart. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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