Students protest in Egypt as constitution referendum vote nears

BY rublek  January 12, 2014 at 4:04 PM EDT

Hundreds of student supporters of the ousted Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi clashed with security forces Sunday during protests at three universities in Cairo.

The demonstrations occurred as Egyptians prepare to vote on a draft constitution on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Sunday’s demonstrations were the latest in a string of increasingly violent clashes between security forces and protesters in recent weeks related to the constitutional referendum. Students marched off campus, burned tires and blocked main roads at both Cairo and Ain Shams universities. Police reportedly fired tear gas, while students threw stones and set a police vehicle on fire.

Police arrested 19 for blocking traffic at the Islamic Al-Azhar University, a security official told the Associated Press.

As Egypt’s Interim President Adly Mansour urges the country’s 52 million voters to head to the polls, officials say hundreds of thousands of soldiers and officers will be deployed to protect the referendum vote.

In a recent speech, Mansour said the constitution “paves the way to serious and steady steps toward democracy.”

This will be the first vote in Egypt since the military removed Morsi from power in July.