Cairo: Supporters of ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi rallied on Sunday to demand his reinstatement, amid last ditch efforts for reconciliation ahead of a threatened crackdown on protests.
A large convoy of cars carrying pictures of the deposed president beeped their horns as they drove through a neighbourhood in east Cairo.
Hundreds at a women`s march in central Cairo chanted against army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi who was behind Morsi`s overthrow, shouting: "Sisi is a traitor, Sisi is a killer."
Morsi loyalists, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, have kept up two huge camps in Cairo to protest against the Islamist president`s ouster by the military on July 3, with regular demonstrations around the country.
They say nothing short of his reinstatement will persuade them to disperse, despite several warnings by the interim leaders that the camps will be dismantled after the Eid al-Fitr holiday which was to end today.
In a sign of the mounting tensions, a brief overnight power cut at the main sit-in outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque struck panic among the pro-Morsi demonstrators, with some taking to social media to announce the assault had begun.
Protest organisers told AFP that as the electricity went out, they reinforced their barricades, added sandbags to the entrances of the protest site, and sent volunteers to find out what was happening, only to be told it was a false alarm.
The main coalition of Morsi supporters, the Anti-Coup Alliance, said 10 marches would take off from various parts of the capital today "to defend the electoral legitimacy" of Egypt`s first freely elected president.
The fresh rallies came as Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam`s highest seat of learning, called for reconciliation talks in the latest of a string of attempts to find a peaceful solution to the political deadlock.
Al-Azhar`s Grand Imam, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, is to begin contacts with political factions tomorrow aimed at convincing them to sit down to talks later this week, state media reported.
"Al-Azhar has been studying all the proposals for reconciliation put forward by political and intellectual figures... To come up with a compromise formula for all Egyptians," Tayyeb`s adviser, Mahmud Azab, told the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper.
But the Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to accept such an invitation after Al-Azhar sided with the military over Morsi`s ouster.