Egyptian police have clashed with protesters gathering in Tahrir Square in capital Cairo ahead of the second anniversary of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power.
President Mohamed Morsi’s opponents plan a rally, accusing the Islamist leader of betraying the revolution.
Mohamed Morsi denies the claim, and has called for “peaceful” celebrations.
An appeals court recently overturned Hosni Mubarak’s life sentence over the deaths of protesters and ordered a retrial.
The 84-year-old former leader remains in detention at a military hospital.
On Thursday evening, police clashed with protesters who tried to remove barriers blocking a road to Tahrir Square.
The clashes continued overnight, as police fired tear gas at demonstrators camping on the square. At least eight people were wounded, officials said.
Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood party has not officially called for its own street rallies. It plans to mark the revolution by launching charitable and social initiatives.
Protesters began converging on Tahrir Square on Friday morning.
One of them, Hanna Abu el-Ghar, said: “We are protesting against the fact that after two years of the revolution, where we asked for bread, freedom and social justice, none of our dreams have come true.”
Egyptian police have clashed with protesters gathering in Tahrir Square in capital Cairo ahead of the second anniversary of the uprising that swept Hosni Mubarak from power
The liberal opposition accuses Mohamed Morsi of being autocratic and driving through a new constitution that favors Islamists and does not sufficiently protect the rights of women or Christians.
Ahead of the planned rally Mohamed El Baradei, a leading opposition figure and former head of the UN atomic agency, said is a statement: “I call on everyone to take part and go out to every place in Egypt to show that the revolution must be completed.”
The government is also being blamed for a deepening economic crisis.
The president has dismissed the opposition’s claims as unfair, instead calling for a national dialogue.
Mohamed Morsi and his supporters accuse their opponents of undermining democracy by failing to respect the Islamists’ victory in elections a year ago.
In a speech on Thursday marking the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, President Mohamed Morsi called on Egyptians to celebrate the anniversary “in a civilized, peaceful way that safeguards our nation, our institutions, our lives”.
Last month, Mohamed Morsi described the new constitution as “historic” and also said that boosting Egypt’s economy was his priority.
The president also admitted that mistakes had been made but insisted he would never make a decision except in the interests of the country.
- January 25, 2011: Campaign of mass protests against Hosni Mubarak launched
- February 11, 2011: Hosni Mubarak steps down as president, handing over to the military
- November 2011-January 2012: Parliamentary elections held; Islamists emerge as winners
- June 2, 2012: Hosni Mubarak convicted over killing of protesters and given life sentence
- June 17, 2012: Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi narrowly wins presidential election
- December 15, 2012: Constitution drafted by Islamist-led body approved in referendum
- January 13, 2013: Appeals court orders Hosni Mubarak retrial
Egypt’s ruling military council has vowed to hand over power to an elected president by the end of June.
The promise comes as votes are counted after Sunday’s presidential run-off election, with both candidates claiming they are ahead in early results.
However, the council had earlier issued a declaration granting itself sweeping powers over legislation and the introduction of a new constitution.
Opposition groups condemned the declaration as a “coup”.
Lt Muhammad al-Assar from the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) told a news conference that a ceremony would be held in late June to hand over power to the new president, state media report.
However, the constitutional declaration issued by the SCAF late on Sunday effectively gives it legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution following mass street protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
It also strips the president of any authority over the army.
The SCAF have even guaranteed themselves jobs for life.
There have been no big protests so far – the military must be hoping that Egyptians are simply too tired of politics to protest, and are willing to go for stability whatever the cost, our correspondent says.
But the army’s declaration was widely condemned in opposition circles.
Prominent political figure Mohamed El Baradei has described the document as a “grave setback for democracy and revolution”.
Former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahi, who came third in the first round of voting and was the favored candidate of many in the protest movement, said the declaration was a “seizure of the future of Egypt”.
“We will not accept domination by any party,” Hamdeen Sabahi said.
Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, of the Muslim Brotherhood, said the declaration was “null and void”.
The Brotherhood had earlier urged Egyptians to “protect their revolution” after the SCAF dissolved parliament – dominated by the Brotherhood – on Saturday.
Two days earlier, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled that last year’s legislative polls were unconstitutional because party members were allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents.
On Monday morning, soldiers prevented MPs from entering parliament.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi ran in Sunday’s poll against Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Mursi ran in Sunday's poll against Ahmed Shafiq, who served as prime minister under former President Hosni Mubarak
The Brotherhood said Mohammed Mursi was holding a 52%-48% lead over Ahmed Shafiq with almost all the vote counted after Sunday’s second-round run-off election.
Speaking at his party headquarters, Mohammed Mursi pledged to be a president for all Egyptians, adding that he would not “seek revenge or settle scores”.
Hundreds of Mohammed Mursi’s supporters gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to celebrate his declaration of victory.
But Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign said it rejected “completely” Mohammed Mursi’s victory claim, and that figures it had obtained showed Shafiq in the lead.
Official results from the Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) will be announced on Thursday, state TV reported.
Correspondents say that there was less enthusiasm in the run-off election than there was for previous rounds of voting, and some called for a boycott or spoiled ballots.
Ahmed Shafiq came second to Mohammed Mursi in last month’s first round, in which turnout among the 52 million eligible voters was only 46%.
• Aged 70
• Veteran fighter pilot and former air force commander
• Appointed Egypt’s first aviation minister, earning reputation for competence and efficiency
• Promoted to PM during February 2011 protests
• Associated with former regime, though denies being backed by ruling military council
• Campaigned on a promise to restore security
• Aged 60
• US-educated engineering professor
• Head of Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP)
• Served as independent MP 2000-05
• Quietly spoken, viewed by some as lacking charisma
• Has promised “stability, security, justice and prosperity” under an Islamic banner