Egyptian police battled thousands of protesters outside President Mohamed Mursi’s palace in Cairo on Tuesday, prompting the Islamist leader to leave the building, presidency sources said.
Officers fired teargas at up to 10,000 demonstrators angered by Mursi’s drive to hold a referendum on a new constitution on December 15. Some broke through police lines around his palace and protested next to the perimeter wall.
The crowds had gathered nearby in what organizers had dubbed “last warning” protests against Mursi, who infuriated opponents with a November 22 decree that expanded his powers. “The people want the downfall of the regime,” the demonstrators chanted.
“The president left the palace,” a presidential source, who declined to be named, told Reuters. A security source at the presidency also said the president had departed.
Mursi ignited a storm of unrest in his bid to prevent a judiciary still packed with appointees of ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak from derailing a troubled political transition.
Facing the gravest crisis of his six-month-old tenure, the Islamist president has shown no sign of buckling under pressure.
Police in Northern Ireland fired plastic bullets and water cannon on rioters late on Monday in a second night of sectarian clashes between Catholics and Protestants that have injured dozens of police officers.
Police fired controversial plastic rounds for the first time during the disturbances after protesters threw Molotov cocktails, fireworks, bricks and stones at officers trying to separate rival groups in north Belfast.
Rioters from the Protestant group hijacked a van at one point and pushed it at police lines. At least three of the injured officers were taken to a hospital.
Riots often erupt during the summer months when Protestant groups hold traditional parades that are seen as provocative by nationalists, who want to be part of a united Ireland, and Catholics.
The second night of disturbances over the last week followed a parade by Catholic Irish nationalists in an area where Protestant groups were recently barred from marching.