Massive numbers of protesters, by some estimates 100,000 or more, marched on Egypt’s presidential palace in Cairo, storming the outer gates and entering the grounds of the compound, forcing President Mohamed Morsi to flee.
The protesters were both condemning Morsi’s edict granting himself unchecked power until a new constitution was in place and the referendum, scheduled for a week from Saturday, on a proposed new constitution.
Morsi’s edict has been hugely controversial and has sparked multiple protests, but he has defended it as temporary and designed to prevent an unfriendly court system from ousting the constitutional committee just days before the draft constitution had been finished. With the vote looming, however, the protesters are now condemning the constitution for having been written by Morsi’s allies in the Muslim Brotherhood.
Yet after last year’s parliamentary elections ended in an overwhelming victory for the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), it is unsurprising that party got a solid major of the seats in the constitutional committee. Specific complaints about the draft have been few, with most condemning it on the basis of its authors, and in the end it seems that the referendum will likely pass on the back of Islamist supporters, ending the most onerous of Morsi’s own power grab by finally giving him a constitutionally defined role.