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Egypt's president Mohammed Morsi raises barricades around palace in preparations for fresh protests against constitution referendumPresident build third concrete wall to protect the palace from protestorsHundreds marched on the palace in Cairo today despite Morsi rescinding his 'pharaoh' power which made his decisions immune from courtsProtestors want President Morsi to delay referendum on draft constitution
20:16 GMT, 9 December 2012
Egyptian army officers were seen constructing the third line of the hastily erected barricades around the presidential palace of leader Mohammed Morsi today.
The security measures followed threats of protests against President's Morsi's decision not to delay the referendum on his controversial draft constitution, set to be held next Saturday.
Hundreds of Egyptians today marched on the presidential palace and the newly build barricades, despite Morsi rescinded a decree that would stop the judiciary challenging his rule.
Building barricades: A man talks with Egyptian army officers as they construct a third line of concrete blocks outside of the Egyptian presidential palace in Cairo today
His decision to renounce his planned
'Pharaoh' powers was a desperate bid to end the violence in which at
least seven have died and hundreds have been injured.
Liberal and secular opponents say the
framework of the draft constitution is too deeply influenced by Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party.
The ratification of the constitution would seal the democratic transition that began when the country's 2011 uprising saw dictator Hosni Mubarak ousted after three decades of one-man rule.
Salvation Front leader Ahmed Said called the race to a referendum an
‘act of war’. His movement called for a mass protest at the palace in
Cairo. The building was stormed last week by activists angered by the
Protecting the palace: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi ordered the barricades to be built after threats of further protests escalated earlier today
Taking it back: Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, pictured yesterday, has announced that he will give up his 'Pharaoh' decree, which granted him near-absolute powers and immunity from courts
The concrete wall is the third
barrier built outside the presidential palace and as hundreds marched on
the palace today Morsi's worried proved not to be unfounded.
However, Mori's choice to lift the
decree last night could persuade many judges to drop their two-week
strike to protest against it, which means they would oversee the
referendum as is customary in Egypt.
It was the decrees that initially
sparked the wave of protests against Morsi that has brought tens of
thousands into the streets in past weeks.
However, the rushed passage of the
constitution further inflamed those who claim Morsi and his Islamist
allies are monopolizing power in
Egypt and trying to force their agenda.
The draft charter was adopted amid a boycott by liberal and Christian
members of the Constituent Assembly, meaning not all members voted.
The document would open the door to
Egypt's most extensive implementation of Islamic law or Shariah,
enshrining a say for Muslim clerics in legislation, making civil rights
subordinate to Shariah and broadly allowing the state to protect 'ethics
It fails to outlaw gender discrimination and mainly refers
to women in relation to home and family.
Protect and serve: Egyptian army engineers and soldiers work on the barricades outside the Egyptian presidential palace
In his late night announcement on Saturday, Morsi
replaced the scrapped decrees with a new one that doesn't give him
unrestricted powers, but allows him to give voters an option if they
decide to vote “no” on the disputed draft charter.
In the new decree, if the
constitution is rejected, Morsi would call for new elections to select
100-member panel to write a new charter within three months.
The new panel would then have up to six months to complete its task, and the president calls for a new referendum with a month.
Bassem Sabry, a writer and activist,
called the partial concession a 'stunt' that would embarrass the
opposition by making it look like Morsi was willing to compromise but
not solve the problem.
'In the end, Morsi got everything he
wanted,' he said, pointing out the referendum would be held without the
consensus Morsi had promised to seek and without giving people
sufficient time to study the document.
Yesterday Morsi was warned by the
powerful Egyptian army that ‘anything other than dialogue will force us
into a dark tunnel with disastrous consequences.’
The statement, broadcast on Egyptian
state TV was attributed to an anonymous official who promised the
military would not allow this to happen.
Planning president: Behind the barricades, inside his palace, President Morsi prepares his next move after Egyptian army leaders gave an ultimatum to him and the opposition to hold talks
Good idea: The building works may have been justified as it was reported that several hundreds of Egyptians marched on the palace to protest against the vote on the draft constitution next Saturday