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Morsi backers plan fresh rallies, defying Egypt police

Supporters of Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi urged fresh rallies on Friday, raising fears of renewed violence as police prepared to disperse them amid international appeals for restraint. The call came as US secretary of state John Kerry said the military’s removal in July of Morsi — Egypt’s first democratically elected president — had been requested by millions.

In comments that will be seen in Egypt as supportive of the interim rulers, Kerry told Pakistan’s Geo television: ‘The military was asked to intervene by millions and millions of people, all of whom were afraid of a descendance into chaos, into violence.’

‘And the military did not take over, to the best of our judgement — so far. To run the country, there’s a civilian government. In effect, they were restoring democracy,’he added.

Allaa Mostafa, a spokeswoman for the pro-Morsi Anti Coup Alliance, told AFP that demonstrators would ‘continue our sit-ins and our peaceful protests’against what she termed a ‘coup d’Etat’. Morsi backers rejected an earlier offer from Egypt’s interior ministry of a ‘safe exit’if they quickly left their Cairo protest camps, as police discussed how to carry out their orders from the military-installed interim government to end the protests. In a statement, the ministry called on those in Rabaa al-Adawiya and Nahda squares ‘to let reason and the national interest prevail, and to quickly leave’.

The ministry pledged ‘a safe exit and full protection to whomever responds to this appeal’. Authorities had already warned that the demonstrations would be dispersed ‘soon’, but without saying when or how.

The stand-off raised fears of new violence, less than a week after 82 people were killed in clashes at a pro-Morsi rally in Cairo. More than 250 people have been killed since the president’s ouster following nationwide protests against his single year in power.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts to avoid further bloodshed gathered pace, with the European Union’s Middle East envoy Bernardino Leon and German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle both arriving in Cairo to urge the rival camps to find common ground.
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