Brotherhood members, who earlier in the day gave a call for a huge rally near the presidential palace in support of President Morsi, boxed opposition protesters in from two sides, leading to scuffles, Al-Nahar TV channel reported.
Opposition protesters and supporters of Morsi hurled stones and petrol bombs at each other. The clashes came after Morsi, who on Wednesday left the Palace through back gate, today returned to the complex.
While protesters battled outside, vice president Mahmoud Mekki held a news conference inside the palace and tried to calm the situation. He asked the opposition to rein in street protests and said political groups could agree on a plan to amend contentious articles after a new parliament is elected in 2013, Al-Jazeera reported. He called for "communication between political forces" on the document. "There must be consensus," Mekki said.
"There is real political will to pass the current period and respond to the demands of the public." Mekki also said the government will not delay the referendum - a key demand of the opposition - nor will Morsi revoke his decree. Meanwhile, Prosecutor General Talaat Ibrahim Abdallah yesterday ordered a probe against three former presidential candidates accusing them of espionage and conspiring a "Zionist plot" against the Islamist government.
Abdallah referred to the State Security Prosecution a complaint accusing Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdein Sabahy and Moussa of spying and inciting the overthrow of the President. Founder of the Constitution Party ElBaradei, Amr Moussa and founder of the Popular Current Party Sabahy have declared their support to the ongoing anti-Morsi protests after the latter assumed absolute power through a decree last month, sparking the current crisis.
The three held their press conference in Cairo and dismissed Mekki's offer. ElBaradei said the opposition is open to dialogue but not until Morsi revokes his decree. All three men blamed Morsi for the violence outside the presidential palace.
"He has lost the moral legitimacy to lead Egypt," said Sabbahi, who placed third in the presidential election earlier this year. Moussa, who is also chairman of the Egyptian National Congress, warned that the clashes will further heat up the situation. The Constitution Party also warned of "dire consequences" for what it described assaults on peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square and outside the palace.
"We are warning of dire consequences for mounting calls by figures affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist current," the party said in a statement, which claimed that the president's supporters had called for massive protests "and even jihad, according to Al-Misry Al-Youm.