Calls for protests started late on Saturday from opponents and supporters of Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi, shortly after the president’s decision to annul a controversial decree.
Egypt’s opposition called for street protests to continue on Sunday against Mursi until he drops a referendum on a new draft constitution.
“We call on Egyptian youth to hold peaceful demonstrations and sit-ins in all of Egypt’s squares until our demands are met,” the National Salvation Front said, in a statement read to media by one of its leaders, Mohamed Abu al-Ghar.
“The will of the people is turning toward a general strike,” Abu al-Ghar added.
The Front’s statement called on Mursi to disband organized militias, to investigate clashes between rival camps that left seven dead and hundreds injured in Cairo on Wednesday and to denounce violence between protester camps.
It reiterated its two core demands that Mursi annul a Nov. 22 decree putting himself beyond judicial review and that he cancel a Dec. 15 referendum on the new constitution.
The Front said it “maintains its offer for serious and objective dialogue” conditioned on those demands.
The Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, said it will organize human chains on Sunday to back up the dialogue’s results in front of its main headquarters in Mokattam, Cairo, according to Al Arabiya.
The protest calls follow Mursi’s decision on Saturday to annul a constitutional declaration he issued last month expanding his powers and that puts his decisions beyond judicial review.
However, the effects of that declaration would stand and a referendum on a draft constitution would still go ahead as planned on Dec.15, said Islamist politician Selim al-Awa.
“The constitutional decree is annulled from this moment,” al-Awa said, as he relayed the substance of a meeting between Mursi and political leaders.
The president was legally bound under the constitution to maintain that date and had no choice, al-Awa explained.
If the draft constitution were rejected, said al-Awa, a new one would be drawn up by officials elected by the people, rather than ones chosen by parliament as for the current text.
The draft constitution has been criticized for its potential to weaken human rights and the rights of women, and out of fear it would usher in Islamic interpretation of laws.
The two issues — the decree and the referendum — were at the heart of the anti-Mursi protests that turned violent this week with clashes on Wednesday that killed seven people and wounded hundreds.
The opposition rebuffed Mursi’s dialogue offer earlier on Thursday as long as those two decisions stood.
In Cairo’s Tahrir Square, a focal point for hardcore protesters, news of the annulled decree sparked no festivities or exuberance.
Gamal Fahmi, member of the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate, told Al Arabiya that those who took part in talk with Mursi represented themselves only, adding that the new constitutional declaration did not address the “fundamental” problem, which he said was in the assembly that was tasked to draft the constitution.
The April 6 Movement dismissed Mursi’s move, saying that he failed to address the constitution.
Tareq al-Khouli, a spokesman for the movement, told Al Arabiya,“ We need to draft the constitution which does not represent the Egyptians as a whole, but only the president and his group.”