CAIRO, November 30 (RIA Novosti) - Thousands of Egyptian opposition activists are gathering in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square on Friday as part of continuous pressure on president Mohamed Morsi, who recently vested himself with new sweeping powers.
From various directions, protestors are flocking to Tahrir, the heart of the January 2011 uprising which ended Hosni Mubarak’s almost thirty-year-long presidency. According to Ahram online, a crowd of at least 10,000 people is now rallying in Tahrir.
The protest was organized by 35 liberal, democratic and other secular parties and movements against what they call the “dictatorship declaration.” Some activists have set up a tent camp in Tahrir, saying they would not leave the area until their demands are granted.
Morsi issued a new constitutional declaration last week, expanding his executive authority and putting him above the judiciary by declaring that the courts are from now on barred from challenging his decisions. Egypt's highest judicial power, the Supreme Judicial Council, earlier called Mursi’s move “an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings.”
Protestors also demand the dissolution of the Constitutional commission, charged with drafting the country’s new fundamental legislation. The commission, which ended its work on Friday morning, submitted the draft constitution for the presidential approval, after which it will be put to a nationwide referendum.
Morsi said the declaration will be in force until a new constitution is approved.
The protests come a couple of days before the Supreme Constitutional Court, whose judges have been in a standoff with Morsi over his extrajudicial powers, is to pronounce its verdict on whether the commission should be dissolved.
Situation in Cairo was tense after Egyptian Islamist organizations - the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafite al-Nur party pledged to hold a “rally of millions” in support of Mursi in Tahrir. They, however, agreed to change the location on Thursday and to rally near the University of Cairo.
Independent experts, however, expect Friday’s protests to be largely peaceful. Streets around Tahrir that used to be unsafe in the past three weeks were cordoned off by concrete blocks and barbed wire on Thursday evening.
Three streets, including those where the US embassy, the Egyptian Parliament and the Interior Ministry building are located, have become a hotbed of tensions as members when leftist youth movements launched their attacks on police, throwing stones and Molotov cocktails. Police occasionally used tear gas against angry crowds.