The Egyptian government will clear the sit-ins in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi, a statement by the presidency said. It is expected that the operation will take place on Monday morning, after the end of the festival of Eid. The protesters have said they will not leave until Morsi is reinstated. Morsi has been under arrest at an undisclosed location charged with murder and conspiracy with the Palestinian group Hamas.
The rallies, being led by the Muslim Brotherhood have taken over the Raba’a al-Adawiya mosque and al-Nahda Square. The protesters feel that Morsi should be reinstated and that the government’s measures against the opposition are unfair. Since Morsi was deposed on July 3, several members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been arrested and charged with serious crimes. Some have had their assets frozen, and media outlets who support the Brotherhood have been shut down. Several leaders of the opposition are at the sit-ins in an effort to avoid arrest.
Previous attempts to disperse the rallies have resulted in violent clashes, with many wounded, and an estimated 300 people dead. At the Rabaa al-Adaweya site, the protesters have started building walls to control access to the area in anticipation of attempts to clear the demonstration. Some demonstrators have also bought gas masks and other supplies in expectation of tear gas attacks.
The government’s statement that it would break up the sit-ins comes in the wake of attempts by foreign diplomats to try to negotiate a resolution. US Senator John McCain went so far as to call Morsi’s ouster a coup. An opinion at odds with that of the Obama administration since categorizing the event as such would require the US to cut aid to Egypt.
US Senator Lindsey Graham has called for the military, and the interim government to be more aggressive in trying to reinstate a democratically elected government.
Earlier this week, at the close of Ramadan, an estimated 10,000 Morsy supporters staged marches across Cairo and other cities in what they termed the “Eid of Victory.”
For its part, the government launched a series of air strikes against militants in the Sinai Peninsula. The military has confirmed that the attacks targeted 25 people for previous shootings and abductions of security forces, though they have not elaborated on casualties.
Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi has stated that transportation will be offered to those leaving the sites.
Earlier today in Kafr al-Sheikh 5 people were injured as a pro-Morsi march clashed with a pro-army demonstration. Both groups have accused each other of starting the violence. South of Cairo, 15 more people were injured in a fight between a Christian family and a Muslim one.
Egypt’s Azhar, a respected Islamic institution will try to convene both factions to negotiate a solution to the political turmoil after the end of Eid.
Egyptian officials speaking to the Associated Press under condition of anonymity said they expect the operation to take two to three days. The process of breaking up the sit-ins will begin by surrounding the camps, and not allowing anybody in.
By Milton Ruiz