CAIRO Egyptian protesters and police clashed in Cairo on Tuesday just hours ahead of a planned rally by opponents of the country’s Islamist president demanding he rescind decrees that granted him near-absolute powers.
Police fired tear gas and hundreds of protesters pelted them with rocks at a street between the U.S. Embassy and Tahrir Square, birthplace of the uprising that toppled president Hosni Mubarak’s authoritarian regime nearly two years ago.
The protesters have been staging a sit-in at the square since Friday night to demand President Mohammed Morsi revoke his decrees.
By mid-day, hundreds were starting to gather in Tahrir, chanting against Morsi’s decrees and the Brotherhood. A new banner in the square proclaimed, “The Brotherhood stole the country.”
“We are here to bring down the constitutional declaration issued by Morsi,” said one protester at Tahrir, Mahmoud Youssef.
Hundreds of lawyers meanwhile gathered outside their union building in downtown Cairo ahead of their march to Tahrir. “Leave, leave,” they chanted, addressing Morsi.
The rally planned for later Tuesday, with marches from various parts of Cairo to converge on Tahrir, is to be a significant test of the opposition’s ability to bring out supporters and the public against Morsi’s edicts issued last week.
The opposition says the decrees give Morsi near dictatorial powers by neutralizing the judiciary at a time when he already holds executive and legislative powers. Key parts of the judicial system have denounced the measures.
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