EGYPT DESCENDS – AT 8:51 A.M. ET: I know it's hard to keep track of all the Mideast crises, the fruit of our incredibly successful Obaman foreign policy. But don't forget the fact that Egypt is descending into chaos. What else is new? There was a run on the presidential palace by opponents of the regime yesterday, forcing President Morsi out of the residence. We don't know if he plans a trip to Disney World. Today they're doing "West Side Story" in Cairo.
(Reuters) - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood called for a rally backing President Mohamed Mursi outside his palace on Wednesday and leftists planned a counter-demonstration, raising fears of clashes in a crisis over a disputed push for a new constitution.
Mursi returned to work at his compound a day after it came under siege from opposition protesters furious at his drive to ratify a new constitution in a snap referendum set for December 15 after temporarily expanding his powers by decree.
The Islamist president said he acted to prevent courts still full of appointees from the era of autocratic predecessor Hosni Mubarak from derailing the draft constitution meant to complete a political transition in the Arab world's most populous state.
The Brotherhood, from which Mursi emerged to narrowly win a free election in June, summoned supporters to a demonstration outside the palace in response to what it termed "oppressive abuses" by opposition parties.
Brotherhood spokesman Mahmoud Ghozlan was quoted on its Facebook page as saying opposition groups "imagined they could shake legitimacy or impose their views by force".
Leftist opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahy promptly urged his supporters to go to the streets as well, heightening the chances of confrontation between Islamists and their opponents.
A spokeswoman for Sabahy's Popular Current movement asked protesters to head to the palace to reinforce those still camped out there after Tuesday evening's protests, in which officials said 35 protesters and 40 police were wounded.
COMMENT: This isn't getting any better. In addition, there are reports from respected sources of an increase of sexual violence against women during some demonstrations. The new, Islamist-written constitution, is due to be voted on by the people of Egypt later this month. No matter what the outcome of the vote, the instability isn't over. Egypt is a bitterly divided country. and the people are no more free than they were under Mubarak.
December 5, 2012