Thousands have taken to the streets of Alexandria, Egypt’s second city. It was a counter-protest in support of President Mohammed Mursi, under fire over the recent decree extending his powers.
“Cleanse the courts” was the refrain, an echo of the government’s claim that the judiciary is packed with Mubarak-era appointees who want to undermine the new administration. The judges themselves have rejected the claims and gone on strike.
The dispute centres on plans for a new constitution.
The final draft was wrapped up in the early hours of Thursday ahead of a vote later in the day. Mursi is also due to address the nation and call for unity.
The Constitutional Court is not on strike. It has accused Mursi and the government of seeking revenge for a previous decision to dissolve parliament. Correspondents say the aim of Thursday’s vote could be to pre-empt a similar ruling this Sunday.
Vote due on Egyptian constitution