CAIRO – The Egyptian army deployed tanks Thursday, December 6, outside the presidential palace after deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi.
"We came here to support President Morsi and his decisions,” demonstrator Emad Abou Salem, 40, told Reuters.
At least five people were killed and hundreds injured Wednesday in clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents around the presidential palace.
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In response, the army deployed tanks around the palace in a bid to prevent a new bout of bloodshed.
Armored troop carriers also moved into the roads around the palace, in what Egypt's state news agency said was a measure to secure the palace.
The area had become a chaotic battleground between Morsi’s Islamist backers and their opponents.
The soldiers' badges identified them as members of the Presidential Guard and Republican Guard, whose duties include guarding the presidency.
At least five tanks and nine armored personnel carriers were seen near or around the palace.
Around the palace, traffic was moving through streets strewn with rocks thrown during violence in which petrol bombs and guns were also used.
Hundreds of Morsi’s supporters were still in the area, many wrapped in blankets and some reading the Qur’an.
“He is the elected president of Egypt,” Abou Salem said.
"He has legitimacy and nobody else does.”
Violence has engulfed Egypt since President Morsi issue a decree granting himself sweeping powers.
Opponents accuse the Islamist leader of seeking to create a new autocracy by awarding himself extraordinary powers and were further angered when an Islamist-dominated assembly pushed through a draft constitution that opponents said did not properly represent the aspirations of the whole nation.
The president has defended his decree as necessary to prevent courts still full of judges appointed by deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak from derailing a constitution vital for Egypt's political transition.
An opposition group called for more protests at the palace later on Thursday, setting the stage for further confrontation.
"This is not what we asked for," an anti-Morsi protestor told CNN.
"It's a complete dictatorship."
The bloodshed has triggered resignations from a number of President Morsi’s advisers.
Former adviser, Amr Ellissy said on Twitter that he resigned "in protest of the constitutional declaration and the fact that I was not consulted in making these decisions."
Morsi's opponents say the Muslim Brotherhood, the group that propelled the president to power in a June election, is behind the violence.
But the Brotherhood says the opposition is to blame and that the five dead were all Morsi supporters.
"We hold opposition figures, namely (Hamden) Sabbahi an (Mohamed) ElBaradei, fully responsible for escalation of violence an inciting their supporters," the group said in a tweet.
Morsi, who is due to deliver a speech on Thursday on the crisis, has shown no sign of buckling under pressure from protesters, confident that the Islamists, who have dominated both elections since Mubarak was overthrown, can win the referendum and parliamentary election to follow.As well as relying on his Brotherhood power base, Morsi may also draw on a popular yearning for stability and economic revival after almost two years of political turmoil.
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