Printed on: December 06, 2012

Egypt descends into political turmoil over disputed constitution


CAIRO (AP) -- Supporters and opponents of Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi fought with rocks, firebombs and sticks outside the presidential palace in Cairo on Wednesday in large-scale clashes that marked the worst violence of a deepening crisis over the disputed constitution.

Egypt's Health Ministry said 126 people were wounded in the clashes that were still raging hours after nightfall.

Three of Morsi's aides resigned in protest of his handling of the crisis. With two aides who had quit earlier, now five of his panel of 17 advisers have left their jobs since the problems began.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition advocate of reform and democracy, said Morsi's rule was "no different" from that of former President Hosni Mubarak, whose authoritarian regime was toppled in an uprising nearly two years ago.

"In fact, it is perhaps even worse," the Nobel Peace Laureate said at a news conference after he accused the president's supporters of a "vicious and deliberate" attack on peaceful demonstrators.

The opposition is demanding Morsi rescind decrees giving him nearly unrestricted powers and shelve a disputed draft constitution that the president's Islamist allies passed hurriedly last week.

The demonstrations and violence are part of a political crisis that has left the country divided into two camps: Islamists versus an opposition made up of youth groups, liberal parties and large sectors of the public.