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Morsi's opponents in Egypt discuss next moves

Backers and opponents of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi are preparing for fresh protests on Friday. The opposition is debating the limited concessions he made in a televised address late on Thursday.

The scene in front of the presidential palace in Cairo was calm on Friday morning. But supporters and opponents of President Mohammed Morsi have called for fresh demonstrations after Friday prayers.

Violence that erupted earlier in the week has left at least five people dead and at least 600 injured. There are conflicting numbers on the casualties. Funerals are to be held on Friday.

Tanks and armoured troop carriers were deployed near the presidential palace on Thursday, soldiers and riot police cleared the area and are still massing behind barbed wire barricades.

In a televised address late on Thursday President Mohammed Morsi condemned the street violence and stressed that he intended to go ahead with the controversial constitutional referendum scheduled for December 15.

He promised, however, to rescind the decree he issued on November 22 which expanded his powers and rendered him immune to judicial review.

In a first reaction the opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, promised to continue its protests

"We will continue to escalate [protests], using peaceful means,” said the group's spokesman, Hussein Abdel Ghani.

The opposition leaders said they were planning to meet later on Friday to review Morsi's call for a national dialogue to resolve the crisis.

Amr Moussa, a presidential candidate and former Arab League chief, told the news agency Reuters that he felt the draft constitution had been rushed through by the Islamist-dominated assembly and the referendum on it should be delayed.

The Islamist President faces a largely secular coalition and observers say deep rifts have emerged within society almost two years after a popular revolt forced Hosny Mubarak to step down.

Several of Morsi's advisers have quit over the crisis, and the Cairo stock market has taken a heavy hit from the latest violence. There was no share trading on Friday, the Muslim day of rest.

rg/sej (AFP, dpa)