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Egypt

Egypt braces for Morsi anniversary protests

A group leading the protest movement against Mohamed Morsi says it has collected 22 million signatures demanding that Egypt's president step down. Morsi's opponents are preparing for a massive protest on Sunday.

A protester walks among tents set up by protesters for their sit-in at Tahrir Square, ahead of the June 30 planned protest against President Mohamed Mursi, in Cairo June 29, 2013. After violence in Egypt that killed three people including an American student, cities were quiet as protesters prepared for rallies on Sunday they hope can unseat the Islamist president. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih (EGYPT - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST)

Ägypten Proteste Juni 2013

The grassroots organization Tamarod announced Saturday that it had gathered the signatures on a petition that demands Morsi step down as president and for new elections to be held.

Tamarod, which means "rebellion" in Arabic, says Morsi has mismanaged the country.

The group has called for a massive protest that is set to take place on Sunday in Cairo. Activists are already pitching their tents in Tahrir Square, where a march on the presidential palace is expected to begin.

Sunday marks Morsi's first anniversary as president. He was elected after popular protests toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.

In a show of solidarity with the Tamarod activists, at least eight members of Egypt's upper house of parliament, the Shura Council, have resigned from their positions.

"We resigned in support of 22 million Egyptians who withdrew their confidence from Morsi," Ihab al-Kharatt, an outgoing deputy, told the AFP news agency.

Obama calls for calm

As tensions between Morsi's opponents and supporters rise ahead of Sunday's planned protests, US President Barack Obama has called on both sides to engage in dialogue rather than violence.

"Every party has to denounce violence," said Obama from Pretoria, where he was meeting with South African officials and a group of youths. "We'd like to see the opposition and President Morsi engage in a more constructive conversation about how they move their country forward because nobody is benefiting from the current stalemate."

Obama also expressed his concern that violent unrest in Egypt could spill over to other nations in the region.

On Friday, three people were killed in the Egyptian city of Alexandria amid clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents. One of the dead was a 21-year-old American, Andrew Pochter, a university student who was in the region teaching English.

Eighty-five people were injured in Alexandria, while one person was killed and a further 10 injured in an explosion during a protest in Port Said.

mz/dr (AP, Reuters, AFP)