Hundreds of Egyptian protesters remained camped out Wednesday in front of the presidential palace, new focus of protests against Mohamed Mursi, after it had been besieged by vast crowds demanding the Islamist president’s ouster.
“Leave!” tens of thousands of protesters had told Mursi during Tuesday night’s dramatic siege of his palace, in scenes not witnessed even during demonstrations that toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.
Although most of the demonstrators left the palace in the upscale neighbourhood of Heliopolis during the night, several hundred remained camped out, vowing not to leave until Mursi rescinds a decree expanding his powers.
Before dawn, street vendors began to set up shop along the walls of the Itihadiya palace which had been sprayed with anti-Mursi graffiti.
“The final warning, the presidency under siege,” read the headline of daily al-Shuruk as the independent Al-Watan declared “Revolution at the president’s doorstep.”
Hundreds more Mursi opponents spent the night in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square under dozens of tents erected almost two weeks ago.
Activists used social networking sites to appeal for blankets and food for the protesters.
Tuesday’s protest at the palace, during which police fired tear gas, saw an already-polarised Egypt slip deeper into crisis.
It was the latest in a string of actions opposed to Mursi’s November 22 decree, which expanded his powers and enabled him to call a mid-December referendum on a draft constitution drawn up by an Islamist-dominated panel and rejected by liberals, leftists and Christians.
“Why did he do all this? He’s supposed to be a president for all egyptians, not just for the Muslim Brotherhood,” said a protester said at the presidential palace.
The draft constitution has become the focal point of a political and ideological battle between Islamists and the largely secular-leaning opposition.