December 15 decider for Egypt

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President Mohamed Mursi called on Egyptians on Saturday to vote in a December 15 referendum on the controversial draft constitution at the heart of a political crisis, amid mass Islamist rallies in Cairo.

Mursi made the ann-ouncement following a ceremony where he received a copy of the charter from the head of the Islamist-dominated constituent ass-embly, boycotted by liberals and Christians, that adopted it the day before.

Hundreds of thousands of Islamists rallied from early on Saturday in support of Mursi’s new expanded powers and the contested charter, which has taken centre stage in the country’s worst political crisis since his election in June.

The crowds flooded the squares and large avenues near Cairo University, led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, on whose tic-ket Mursi ran for office, and by hardline Salafists, causing traffic jams in the capital. On Friday opponents of the draft constitutions had massed in Tahrir Square, demonstrating the country’s widening polarisation, squaring largely Islamist forces against secular-leaning opponents.

“We want this phase to end. We want a constitution. If people don’t like the constitution, let them say so through the ballot boxes,” one protester said on Saturday. Others chanted: “The people want impl-ementation of God’s law.”

Meanwhile, Opposition pr-otesters announced they will rally outside the presidential palace on Tuesday to protest against the referendum on Egypt’s controversial draft constitution.

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