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Egyptian police, anti-Sisi protesters clash for second night in Suez

Egyptian protesters shout slogans as they take part in a protest calling for the removal of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo's downtown on September 20, 2019. (Photo by AFP)

Egyptian police have fired tear gas and live rounds to disperse hundreds of anti-government protesters in the port city of Suez.

The violence broke out late Saturday when protesters, heading to downtown Suez, were met by police and security forces barricading the streets with armored vehicles for the second night in a row.

Chanting slogans against the government in Cairo, the demonstrators called on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to step down.

"There were about 200 or so people. They (security forces) fired tear gas, rubber and live bullets and there were injuries," a protester, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

Reports said a heavy security presence was also maintained in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital after protests in several cities on Friday called for Sisi's removal.

At least 74 people were arrested after clashes between the protesters and police in the capital, a security source told AFP.

Human Rights Watch (HRW), demanding an "immediate release" of those arrested, called on the Egyptian government to "protect the right to peaceful protest" across the country.

The recent round of demonstrations began with an online call by exiled Egyptian businessman Mohamed Aly who has accused Sisi of corruption.

In a statement late Saturday, Egypt’s foreign media accreditation body cautioned international journalists that their reporting of events "should not be exaggerated", without explicitly mentioning the anti-government protests.

Sisi has long been facing international condemnation for a crackdown on civil society groups since he took power in 2014, a year after a military coup spearheaded by him toppled the country’s first ever democratically-elected president Mohamed Morsi.

After his ouster, Morsi began serving a 20-year prison term on charges of ordering the arrest and torture of protesters, a 25-year jail term on charges of passing intelligence to Qatar, and a three-year term for insulting the judiciary.

The 67-year-old passed away during a trial court session in Cairo in June.

Since Morsi’s overthrow, Egyptian authorities have been engaged in a persistent crackdown on dissent, killing hundreds and arresting thousands.

Sisi's human rights record, however, has not stopped US President Donald Trump from expressing support for his government.

Trump referred to the Egyptian president as his “favorite dictator” while awaiting a meeting with him at a gathering during the Group of Seven (G7) summit in France last month, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

Citing several witnesses, the Journal said Trump’s comment was met with a shocked silence. The report did not clarify whether the Egyptian president himself heard the remarks.

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