Egyptian protesters rally to demand Mursi’s return to power

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Thousands of supporters of the ousted Egyptian president Mohammad Mursi rallied nationwide on Monday to commemorate dozens of people who were killed outside the building of the Republican Guards last week and to demand the return of the former president into office.

A huge crowd of Mursi’s supporters poured into a square near a mosque in northeast Cairo carrying a giant Egyptian flag, banners and portraits of the detained leader, according to Reuters.

Al Arabiya reported that one group of protesters blocked the 6th October Bridge and another announced a sit-in in the central Cairo’s Ramsis Square.

Egyptian security forces opened tear gaz on the protestering blocking the vital bridge, Al Arabiya reported.

Accusing the United States of backing a military coup, thousands of Mursi’s partisans have kept a vigil there since the days before the army toppled him on July 3, swelling to tens of thousands for mass protests every few days, Reuters reported.

The army warned them on Monday that it would respond with “the utmost severity and firmness and force” if they approach military bases. At least 92 people were killed in the days after Mursi was toppled, more than half of them shot by troops outside a barracks near the mosque a week ago.

Protests since then have been tense but mostly peaceful.

Thousands of opposing protesters, backing the military overthrow of Mursi, have gathered in the iconic Tahrir square.

The anticipated protests came amid a visit from the first senior U.S. official to visit Egypt since the army toppled Mursi.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns pressed Egypt’s interim leaders on Monday for a return to elected government.
Burns held talks in Cairo with army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, military-appointed president Adly Mansour and caretaker prime minister Hazem al-Beblawi.

In a press conference, the U.S. envoy urged all parties in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood, to engage in dialogue.
His visit came as Egypt’s interim prime minister finalized his cabinet.

The Brotherhood, from which Mursi hails, has refused to join the new government headed by caretaker al-Beblawi.

Burns’ visit aims to push for “an end to all violence and a transition leading to an inclusive, democratically elected civilian government,” a statement from the U.S. State Department said.

The U.S. administration has still not decided whether he was the victim of a coup, which would legally require a freeze on some $1.5 billion in vital military and economic U.S. assistance to Cairo.

On Sunday, two influential Republican U.S. lawmakers, Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator John McCain, urged the administration to cut the aid in response to the coup.

Monday’s expected protests will come after an assets freeze against nine senior Brotherhood figures as part of an investigation ordered by chief prosecutor Hisham Barakat.

Those targeted include leader Mohammad Badie and five Islamists from other groups including ex-militant faction Gamaa Islamiya, judicial sources said.

The investigation relates to four deadly incidents since Mursi’s overthrow, including clashes in Cairo last Monday in which dozens died, according to AFP.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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