Egypt braces for new unrest as Morsi supporters plan protests

CAIRO — Egypt braced for more unrest Friday as supporters of ousted former President Mohamed Morsi rallied to protest his arrest by the military while Morsi’s opponents planned to stage their own demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

On what they dubbed a “Friday of Rejection,” members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood organization pledged they would demonstrate peacefully. “Any violence is rejected,” Gehad el-Haddad, spokesman for the brotherhood, posted on Twitter.

Morsi supporters said the protest in the Nasr City section of Cairo would swell following the weekly afternoon prayer. Police were deployed in various parts of the city, some wearing bulletproof vests, residents said.

Egypt’s military ousted Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader, and placed him under arrest Wednesday following massive public protests against his leadership. The military also suspended the constitution, dissolved parliament and installed an interim president but has yet to announce a date for new elections.

The interim leader, Judge Adly Mahmoud Mansour, head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, appointed two top advisers Friday as a step toward fresh elections and perhaps a new constitution, the Egyptian website al-Ahram reported.

The uncertainty in Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous nation, continued to reverberate throughout the region as the African Union said it had suspended Egypt’s membership “until the restoration of constitutional order.”

Egypt also closed its border crossing into the Palestinian territory of Gaza, Egyptian media reported, after gunmen in the restive Sinai Peninsula killed an Egyptian soldier and wounded two others in an attack in the border city of Rafah. It wasn’t immediately clear if the attack was related to the coup against Morsi.

Human Rights Watch called for an inquiry into the deaths of at least 32 Egyptians, both supporters and opponents of Morsi, in political unrest since late June.

Eighteen people were killed Tuesday near Cairo University, where Morsi supporters said they were attacked by civilian “thugs” and security forces, while local residents said they came under fire from Muslim Brotherhood members, according to a Human Rights Watch statement.

“The deaths on the streets of Egypt over the past several days cry out for an impartial investigation,” said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “The available information indicates that both supporters and opponents of Morsi — and possibly security forces as well — were responsible for needless loss of life.”)

Distributed by MCT Information Services