Egypt's Mursi to authorise army to take on security role

CAIRO Sat Dec 8, 2012 2:53pm IST

Republican Guard soldiers stand on a tank as they are surrounded by protesters against Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi after the protesters peacefully broke past barbed wire barricades guarding the presidential palace in Cairo December 7, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Republican Guard soldiers stand on a tank as they are surrounded by protesters against Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi after the protesters peacefully broke past barbed wire barricades guarding the presidential palace in Cairo December 7, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi, facing street protests over his attempts to push through a new constitution, will soon authorise the armed forces to help police keep order, the state-run newspaper al-Ahram reported on Saturday.

The daily said the cabinet had approved a legal measure under which the armed forces would help "maintain security and protect vital state institutions" and would be given powers of arrest, but did not say when it would be issued.

The opposition was still staging protests around Mursi's official palace, where clashes with his Islamist supporters killed seven people and wounded 350 earlier this week.

Egypt's military was the power behind all previous presidents and an army council temporarily took over after a popular revolt toppled Hosni Mubarak last year.

However, Mursi pushed the generals aside in August, two months after he was elected and they have shown no appetite to intervene in the latest crisis in the most populous Arab nation.

(Reporting by Omar Fahmy: Writing by Alistair Lyon; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

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