One person was killed and dozens were injured in Egypt as clashes between security forces and protesters fueled opposition accusations of “excessive force” against demonstrators.
Forty people, including police, were hurt overnight in the Nile delta city of Mansoura, state media reported. The Interior Ministry said the body of one person was taken to the hospital and that his brother said he died after a police car struck him “without intention.” The incident is being investigated, it said. In Port Said, about 500 people hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at the old police headquarters in the Suez Canal city, setting parts of it ablaze, the ministry said.
The violence heightens tensions that have plagued the country’s transition since the 2011 uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak and stifled efforts to revive a battered economy. It comes ahead of parliamentary elections due to start in April. President Mohamed Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood supporters say the vote is a step toward stability, while the main opposition bloc, the National Salvation Front, has said it will boycott it.
The clashes coincided with the arrival U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo. He will urge Mursi and opposition politicians to overcome their differences for the sake of the country’s faltering economy, said a U.S. official not authorized to speak on the record.
The use of “excessive force by the security forces in cooperation with the thugs of the Muslim Brotherhood” marks “beyond doubt the collapse of all political and moral legitimacy for this regime,” the opposition Egyptian Popular Current said today in a statement.
The protests in Mansoura, Port Said and other cities “highlight the spread of the popular rejection of the current authority,” it said. “We are confident that this will spread,” building toward “complete civil disobedience,” the group said.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement that in Mansoura protesters threw rocks and firebombs at a local government building while chanting anti-government slogans. Police forces fired tear gas and arrested 28 people after attempts to “open dialogue” with the demonstrators failed, it said.
Mursi’s opponents accuse him of working to tighten his grip on power and that of the Muslim Brotherhood while failing to achieve the goals of the 2011 revolt. His supporters say it’s too early to judge his performance in office and that rampant protests undermine efforts to stabilize the country.
The head of Egypt’s elections commission, Samir Abul Maati, told reporters today that registration of candidates for legislative election will start on March 9. The four-stage vote is scheduled to begin on April 22 with parliament due to convene on July 2.
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