At least four were killed and over 300 injured in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Wedndeday, in clashes over President Morsi’s controversial draft constitution, Egypt’s Health Ministry said.
According to reports, Wednesday’s violence began when rocks and petrol bombs were thrown at an opposition sit-in outside the presidential palace. Both sides blamed the other for inciting the violence.
Riot police were sent in to break up the conflict and 32 arrests were made, according to a statement from the Interior Ministry. But the clashes continued into early Thursday morning,
Protests spread to other cities, and offices of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood in Ismailia and Suez were torched.
Wednesday’s conflict follows two weeks of escalating political unrest in Egypt that began with the Egyptian President's controversial decree in late November, granting himself extensive new powers.
Morsi promised to relinquish these powers when a new constitution was in place. But critics say his draft constitution doesn’t do enough to protect political and religious freedoms or the rights of women.
On Wednesday, anti-Morsi demonstrators demanded that Morsi give up his sweeping new powers and shelve the draft constitution they claim was rushed through parliament without proper consultation.
Vice President, Mahmoud Mekki, confirmed on Wedneday that a referendum on the constitution will go ahead in mid December, but said the “door for dialogue” remains open.
Wednesday’s clashes coincided with the resignations of three of Morsi’s aides in protest of his handling of the crisis, AP reported.
Having already lost two aides, now five of his panel of 17 advisors have quit their jobs since the problems began.
Morsi did not make any public appearances on Wednesday but a statement from Egyptian Prime Minister, Hisham Qandil, asked for "the opportunity for the efforts being made now to begin a national dialogue".