Egyptian judicial authorities accused the ousted President Mohammed Morsi of conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, increasing tensions as demonstrators massed in Cairo and other cities.
The allegations also include attacks on security buildings, jailbreaks, murder and abduction, the state-run Middle East News Agency reported today. Tens of thousands of supporters of the former president flocked to Cairo’s Rabaa el-Adawiya square, while hundreds of his opponents gathered in Tahrir Square, amid warnings the continuation of more than a month of protests risks dragging Egypt deeper into conflict.
Clashes later broke out between Morsi’s backers and opponents, the police chief in Cairo’s Shubra district said by phone.
The military last night issued a 48-hour ultimatum and said that from today its tactics in dealing with violence and terrorism would change. It didn’t give any details.
Morsi has been held at an undisclosed location since July 3, when street protests culminated in his removal by the army. His supporters have held daily protests since then, demanding the former president’s reinstatement leading to the deaths of almost 100 people in clashes.
“It’s becoming increasingly untenable for president Morsi to be detained for almost a month now without being charged with anything,” putting pressure on the authorities to announce a judicial process has begun, Yasser el-Shimy, a Cairo-based analyst with the International Crisis Group, said today by phone. “It’s likely to inflame the sentiments of the pro-Morsi crowd.”
Military chief Abdelfatah al-Seesi urged Egyptians on July 24 to take to the streets today to give the military and police a broad mandate to combat “violence” and “terrorism.” Al- Seesi, who was appointed defense minister by Morsi, announced his overthrow on July 3, declaring a road map which installed constitutional court chief Adly Mansour as interim president.
Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie said al-Seesi’s speech made it clear that “he’s the real ruler of the country. He urged Egyptians to rally in defense of ‘‘freedom and legitimacy’’ and to announce ‘‘your rejection of the military coup.’’
Numbers of protesters are expected to rise toward the evening as the weather cools, especially in the current month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn till sunset.
Al-Seesi’s request for Egyptians to rally today ‘‘is designed to reframe the conflict with the Muslim Brotherhood as a war on terror,’’ Hani Sabra, Middle East director at the Eurasia Group in New York, said in an emailed statement Thursday.
Opponents of the Brotherhood, including youth groups and secular-leaning parties, accuse Islamists of deadly violence, including a surge in militant attacks in Sinai against military and police positions. A number of armed supporters of Morsi were detained this week as they tried to attack a rival sit-in in Tahrir Square, the heart of the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, state-run media reported.
Yields on the 5.75 percent bonds maturing April 2020 rose 3 basis points to 8.59 percent at 12:26 p.m. in Cairo, bringing this week’s increase to 14 basis points, the most in a month.
Today’s judicial statement also extended Morsi’s detention by 15 days and accused him of escaping and assisting others to escape from Wadi al-Natrun jail where he was detained before the 2011 uprising. Morsi was questioned over the allegations and was presented with evidence, MENA said.
‘‘The accusations read as if they’re a retaliation from the old regime, signaling ‘We’re back in full force,’” Al Jazeera quoted Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad as saying.
The Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, says his removal was a coup against Egypt’s first freely elected civilian president, while opponents say he had to go because he aided Islamists at the expense of the national interest.
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