Egypt Independent

Update: As nation awaits Morsy address, army builds wall in Heliopolis

President Mohamed Morsy will address the nation Thursday, state-run satellite channel Nile News quoted one of his aides as saying.

The announcement did not specify when or how Morsy would give his speech, which follows clashes outside the presidential palace that killed at least five and injured hundreds of protesters overnight Wednesday.

The president met with Prime Minister Hesham Qandil, several ministers and senior security officials Thursday afternoon to discuss the situation, his spokesperson said.

Shortly after Morsy's forthcoming address was announced, it was reported that the Armed Forces had begun constructing a new cement wall in Heliopolis on Merghani Street, which leads to the presidential palace, to block protesters from entering.

Protesters supporting Morsy against rival demonstrations in front of the palace began to disperse Thursday afternoon following a government order.

The Republican Guard forces began closing roads leading to the palace after presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali announced that they would disband protests at 3 pm.

Opposition activists had been protesting outside the palace since Tuesday to reject the constitution-drafting process and the president’s November decree temporarily putting himself above judicial review.

Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators have moved to begin a march on Salah Salem Street, eyewitnesses told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

After dispersing in the early hours of Thursday, pro- and anti-Morsy demonstrators again began throwing stones Thursday afternoon.  

Soldiers stationed in the area urged the president's supporters to back off, Reuters reported.

Presidential guards were also stationed outside the palace in Heliopolis Thursday morning to prevent renewed clashes, said their commander Mohamed Zaky.

“The Republican Guards will not be a tool to repress demonstrators and will not use any tools of force against the Egyptian people,” Zaky said, addressing protesters.

He then called on everyone to remain calm and peaceful.

The commander said that he will do all he can to prevent a repeat of Wednesday night’s violence, which broke out when Islamist groups mobilized followers to march on opposition protests outside the palace.

Protesters backing Morsy tied 25 opposition supporters to the gates of the presidential palace Wednesday night, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported Thursday.

Meanwhile Thursday, dozens of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square downtown to support the anti-Morsy demonstrations at the palace and decry what they say was a violent Islamist attack, state-run MENA news agency reported.

The Tahrir protesters walked around the square Thursday chanting their familiar refrains. “Down with the supreme guide’s rule” and “Leave, leave,” they yelled, according to MENA.

They also closed the square to cars as demonstrators stationed themselves at the entrance and erected additional barricades to protect their protest.

Three groups are planning to march from the Matareya neighborhood, Raba’a al-Adaweya Mosque in Nasr City and Nour Mosque in Abbasseya at 4 pm toward the palace, MENA reported Popular Current spokesperson Hossam Moanes as saying. Moanes said the marches would be peaceful.

He also held Morsy responsible for the violent clashes on Wednesday, adding that Morsy has lost legitimacy as his duty is to protect lives and prevent bloodshed.