Around ten thousand of President Mohamed Morsy’s supporters gathered by Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque in Heliopolis on Friday, as a show of support for the draft constitution up for referendum Saturday.
At the same time, thousands prepare for “million man” protests in Tahrir Square and at the Presidential Palace against the draft constitution and the referendum itself.
The scene, indicative of a nation divided, is a last stand for both sides as millions are expected to cast their ballots on Saturday in the first phase of the nationwide referendum on the constitution.
Protestors have started a sit-in around the Presidential Palace and say they will not leave, not even after the referendum’s conclusion a week from now on 22 December.
There are 56 tents set up so far with soldiers from the Republican Guard and Central Security Forces securing entrances with tanks, armoured vehicles, barbed wire and concrete walls.
Opposition marches, called for by several political and revolutionary groups, are set to make their way there later today from Roxy and Hadayek Al-Qobba Squares in Nasr City and Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen.
Hundreds have already made their way to Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo carrying “no to the constitution” signs and pictures of journalist Al-Hosseini Abu Deif and April 6 Youth Movement Member Gaber “Jika” Salah.
Abu Deif was killed in clashes by the Presidential Palace on 5 December when Muslim Brotherhood members clashed with opposition protestors while Jika died as a result of injuries he sustained in Mohamed Mahmoud Street this November when protestors clashed with police.
The “Second Revolution of Anger” Facebook page said there would be marches from Tahrir Square at 6pm to polling stations all over Cairo where protestors will stage sit-ins, in an attempt to stop the referendum.
Polling stations are protected by the military, which Morsy granted the power to arrest civilians last week as part of the referendum securing process. The presidency has announced that civilians arrested by military officers during the referendum would not be subject to military trials, however.
Opposition groups have maintained that they oppose the referendum. They claim the constitution is illegitimate due to not having a national consensus and the Constituent Assembly responsible for drafting it, does not represent all segments of society.
The Constituent Assembly held a Friday press conference answering critics of the constitution. Spokesperson Abdel-Moniem Al-Sawy said most opposition leaders criticised the draft due to things it has not included and called on them not to mislead the people and read the draft properly.
The National Salvation Front, the largest opposition bloc, nonetheless said it would participate in the referendum and called on Egyptians to vote “No” to the constitution.
The NSF contains many secular and revolutionary parties and groups and is led by Al-Dostour Party Chairman and Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who serves as the group’s coordinator, and called on Egyptians to vote against the constitution in a televised address Thursday.
Other prominent leaders include former Arab League Secretary General and Conference Party Chairman Amr Moussa and Popular Current Leader Hamdeen Sabahy. Both men ran against Morsy in the presidential elections coming fifth and third, respectively.