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Tense Egypt set for mass anti-Morsi rallies

27 June 2013, 17:05

Cairo - Opponents of Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi are pressing ahead with plans to stage mass rallies against the Islamist leader after he marked his turbulent first year in office with a defiant speech.

Not since Morsi was elected as the country's first civilian president in June 2012 has there been so much anxiety and anticipation in the Arab world's most populous nation.

To placate protesters who plan to take to the streets on Sunday, Morsi promised constitutional reforms and appealed for dialogue, warning the deep political divisions threatened to "paralyse" Egypt.

"Egypt faces many challenges. The polarisation has reached a stage that could threaten our democratic experience and paralyse the nation and cause chaos," Morsi said in a two-and-half hour speech late Wednesday.

The call for the 30 June protests was launched by Tamarod (Arabic for Rebellion), a grassroots movement launched in April seeking to withdraw confidence from Morsi.

Capitalising on Egyptians' low spirits caused by a severe economic crisis, including fuel shortages, power cuts and soaring inflation, it galvanised support, collecting over 15 million signatures calling for early presidential elections.

Morsi's opponents say he failed the revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011 and brought the senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood to the presidency.

They accuse him of concentrating power in the hands of Islamists and of failing to address the core issues that sparked the revolt, namely freedom and social justice.

During his tenure, the economy has taken a tumble, investment has dried up, the vital tourism industry has been battered and inflation has soared.

In his address, Morsi admitted to having made mistakes and vowed to correct them.



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