Brotherhood insists on Morsy’s comeback; new constitutional declaration coming

After overnight pitched battles between supporters and foes of deposed President Mohamed Moray, a cleanup operation was in full swing on a Nile bridge, not far from Cairo’s iconic Tahrir square.

An army of municipality workers who had descended on the bridge and its feeder arteries in the early hours on Saturday were having a tough time to remove the telltale signs of last night’s furious encounter—rocks hewn out of pavements, broken remnants of glass from what were Molotov cocktails, charred sheets of metal that had been used as shields by the incensed battlers in their incendiary back-and-forth.

Yet, the lasting image of Friday night’s fighting was the arrival of a convoy of armoured vehicles that speeded up the bridge. A hail of bird shot and teargas from the troops commandeering these vehicles quickly dispersed Mr. Morsy’s supporters. Victorious foot soldiers of the anti-Morsy camp then clambered atop the troop carriers for a free ride, sometimes posing ecstatically for pictures with the soldiers and shouting the oft-repeated slogan-- “The people and police are one hand.”

The visual display of partisanship by the military captured the essence of Egypt’s deeply polarised conflict— that the balance of power on the street was grossly in favour of the anti-Morsy camp on account of the military’s visible support.

Despite the spirited riposte on Friday by the Islamists, and much bloodshed-- thirty seven people were killed all over Egypt in the clashes according to official count—the military-backed coalition of secularists, leftists and religious minorities seemed set to escalate their feud with the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies.

The Rebel coalition that was apparently responsible for mounting a surge of street protests that led to Wednesday’s coup, has called for another round of demonstrations, culminating in “the greatest rally” that is scheduled on Sunday. The coalition also attempted to touch a nationalistic chord by warning that foreign machinations to hijack the Egyptian revolution could well be in the works.

"We affirm that there are clear attempts to smear our glorious revolution, attempts that seek to portray the people’s will as a military coup, which may lead to intervention by foreign forces in Egypt’s internal matters and which we won’t accept," said a statement by the coalition. The main opposition National Salvation Front also called for street mobilisation to counter what it describes is the Brotherhood’s plot to "portray the situation as if there is a fight over legitimacy and pave the way for foreign intervention, like that which took place in Libya and Syria".

While the focus on Friday was on street protests, Egypt’s military-backed interim rulers continued to systematically dismantle the institutions established during Mr. Morsy’s short-lived presidency. Interim President, Adli Mansour, a former chief justice of the Supreme Constitutional Court, formally dissolved the Upper House Shoura Council that the Islamists had dominated. He also appointed General Mohamed Ahmed Fareed as head of General Intelligence. The constitutional court had already shuttered the Lower House of parliament last year. Egypt’s new rulers have marginalised the media supporting the Islamists, and the coverage of Friday’s pro-Morsy rallies was distinctly patchy.

Since Friday, the Brotherhood has demonstrated that it was ready for a fight. From its newly established popular base at Nasser city’s Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square in Cairo, the Brotherhood chief Mohammed Badie declared that his organization was committed to seek Mr. Morsy’s reinstatement as President. The Brotherhood also called for the reversal of all decisions, decrees and actions following the military coup, as well as the rehabilitation of the abrogated constitution. The organisation, adopting a combative tenour, demanded that all officials responsible for “oppressive tactics” that were used to kill demonstrators and arrest political leaders must be held accountable.

With the polarisation between the secularists and Islamists seemingly insurmountable, the Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya Islamist group, has called for a referendum that would allow people to choose between Mr. Morsy’s return to power and the post-Morsy roadmap sponsored by the army.

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