Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi assured his supporters that the country was on a path of "freedom and democracy" even as thousands of people staged rival rallies across the polarised nation to both support and oppose his move to assume sweeping powers.
Mursi's detractors dubbed him the
'new pharaoh', a day after he issued a declaration granting himself what many said were more powers than the ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Thousands of his supporters and opponents today took to streets to stage rival rallies across Egypt, leading to sporadic violence and burning down of offices belonging to the ruling Muslim Brotherhood.
Amid much concern over the move, Mursi told his supporters that Egypt was on the path to "freedom and democracy," and stability was the need of the hour.
"Political stability, social stability and economic stability are what I want and that is what I am working for," he told an Islamist rally outside the presidential palace.
Mursi's new powers are supposed to be temporary, to last for the transition period, and the decree will expire when a new constitution is approved by the middle of February.
However his opponents see the move as endangering the gains of the popular uprising which ousted Mubarak's dictatorial regime.
"I have always been, and still am, and will always be, God willing, with the pulse of the people, what the people want, with clear legitimacy," Mursi said.
The President's declaration also ordered retrials of officials involved in the killing of protesters during the 2011 mass uprising against the Mubarak regime.
Protesters marching from various city points converged in in Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square chanting slogans such as "Down with the Supreme Guide," "Wake up Mursi, it's your last day," and the popular "The people demand the fall of the regime."
The protesters held banners denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood and its intervention in the state policy, as well as banners rejecting yesterday's constitutional declaration.