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Parties divided over marches

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Some political groups prefer to remain in Tahrir, others head to the presidential palace

Protesters march towards the presidential palace on 4 December. (DNE/ Basil El-Dabh)

Opposition parties are united in protest over the constitutional referendum and declaration, but are torn over protest strategy.

Al-Dostour Party announced Monday night that they will not take part in the Tuesday marches heading to the presidential palace.

Protesters marched to the presidential palace Tuesday evening demanding the revocation of the constitutional declaration issued by President Mohamed Morsy, as well as his decision to put the draft constitution to a referendum on 15 December.

“We are organising official marches to Tahrir square,” said Ahmed Al-Hawary, a member of the steering committee in Al-Dostour Party. Conflicting reports about Al-Dostour Party’s participation circulated before the march.

Al-Dostour Party is wary that the Muslim Brotherhood could rally protesters and occupy Tahrir square while the opposition marchs to the presidential palace. “We do not want the square to be empty,” Al-Hawary said, justifying the party’s decision.

The party said its members were free to take part in the marches heading to the presidential palace, in an unofficial capacity.

“All student members of Al-Dostour party are marching to the presidential Ppalace,” Mustafa Fouad, student member of the party, said before joining the march. Fouad said that marching to the presidential palace is a necessary escalation since the authorities are turning a deaf ear to the opposing protesters’ demands.

“The march takes off from Ain Shams University at 2.30pm,” Fouad said, adding that two other student marches, from Cairo University and Helwan University, would join with the Ain Shams University march; all would head to the presidential palace. He added that student members of other parties are also marching to the palace; such as the Popular Current and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party. All parties are members in the National Rescue Front (NRF), a front established to unite all non-Islamist forces against Morsy’s latest decisions.

“The Popular Current is taking part in the marches to the presidential palace as a form of escalation,” said Hossam Mo’ness, founding member of the Popular Current. He added that the Popular Current would also participate in the marches heading to Tahrir square “to maintain the rally in the square.”

Strong Egypt Party announced it would not take part in any marches heading to the presidential palace.

“The marches to the palace have been called for by the NRF,” Ahmed Samir, media coordinator in Strong Egypt Party, said before the marches started moving. “We are not part of the NRF, thus, we aren’t taking part,” he added.

Strong Egypt Party is, nevertheless, marching to Tahrir square. “We’ve been in the square since last Friday,” Samir said.

Opposition movements started a sit-in in Tahrir square on 23 November, after Morsy issued a constitutional declaration which granted him sweeping new powers. The sit-in continued amid the finalisation of the draft constitution by the Constituent Assembly. The sit-in participants reject the draft constitution, claiming that it lacks harmony and equal representation of different Egyptian factions. They, in turn, oppose Morsy’s decision to issue a referendum on the draft constitution.


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