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Sunday, November 25, 2012
International

Activists vow more protests after Morsi power grab

More turmoil feared as world concern mounts

Protesters demonstrating against Egypt's Islamist President Mohamed Morsi run from tear gas fired by Egyptian riot police during clashes in Cairo's landmark Tahrir square yesterday. Morsi has assumed temporary sweeping powers that supporters say will cut back a turbulent and seemingly endless transition to democracy, but outraged critics say he has now become a dictator. Photo: AFP

Egyptian opposition activists yesterday vowed to stage more sit-ins in Cairo to protest against the president's move to grant himself extensive new powers.

Anti-riot police fired tear gas on Saturday to disperse protesters camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square as Western governments voiced growing concern over Islamist President Mohamed Morsi's assumption of sweeping powers.

The decree, issued on Thursday, bans challenges of his decisions and says no court can dissolve the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution.

The president already held both and executive and legislative powers and Thursday's decree puts him beyond judicial oversight until a new constitution has been ratified in a referendum.

It also means that the Islamist-dominated panel drawing up the new charter can no longer be touched and gives it a two-month extension -- until February next year -- to complete its work.

A hard core of opposition activists had spent the night in the iconic protest hub -- epicentre of the popular uprising that toppled veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak last year -- erecting some 30 tents, an AFP correspondent reported.

But when more demonstrators attempted to join them in the morning, police responded with volleys of tear gas forcing them to retreat into surrounding streets.

Opposition-led protests were held in most of Egypt's major cities on Friday sparking violent clashes in the canal city of Suez and the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, where offices of the Islamist Freedom and Justice Party, which backed Morsi for the presidency, were torched.

Protest organisers said more than 20 different groups had joined a week-long sit-in against Morsi's reforms, saying the new president is becoming as much of a dictator as Mubarak.

More than 100 people have been injured in clashes across the country.

Protesters called a new mass protest in Tahrir for Tuesday.

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