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Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: Stumbling Towards a Referendum

See also Syria Live Coverage: "Assad Forces Using Scud Missiles"
Wednesday's Egypt (and Beyond) Live Coverage: People Divide in Protests

1725 GMT: Palestine. An image of today's Hamas rally in Nablus in the West Bank, an impresssive turnout in an area overseen by rival party Fatah:

1525 GMT: Saudi Arabia. King Abdullah, 88, leaves hospital after last month's back surgery --- his absence from public view led to rumours that he was dead or in a coma:

1515 GMT: Egypt. Thousands of mourners have turned a funeral for photojournalist Al-Husseini Abu Deif, mortally wounded on 5 December during clashes near the Presidential Palace, into a protest against the Government and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Abu Deif was filming the protests for privately-owned newspaper Al-Fagr when he was hit with birdshot. He died in hospital on Wednesday.

Abu Deif’s parents and siblings said they hold President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood responsible for his death.

Marchers chanted: “Down with the [Brotherhood] Supreme Guide’s rule”, “Oh, Husseini, your blood is liberating the country", and “Even if they kill us in the streets, we will speak the truth.”

Some mourners who support Morsy objected to the chants, and minor quarrels broke out at the funeral.

Activist Mona Ahmed Seif challenges the claim of the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party that the opposition National Salvation Front is responsible for Abu Deif's death.

1500 GMT: Morocco. The leader of Morocco's main opposition, the al-Adl Wal Ihsane (Justice and Spirituality) group, Sheikh Abdessalam Yassine, died today.

Yassine, 84, was suffering from influenza.

1345 GMT: Bahrain. Photojournalist Mazen Mahdi provides an image of protest:

1205 GMT: Egypt. The Constitution Party, headed by Mohamed ElBaradei, has said it will reveal an alternative constitution today, to be presented to the people if the Government-supported draft is rejected in the national referendum this month.

The party said it had been developing the draft with a number of other parties and legal experts for three months.

0935 GMT: Bahrain. Sheikh Ali Salman, the leader of the opposition political society Al Wefaq, has said, "I believe that we need more from Britain and the US to achieve, on the ground, the change to democracy without any delay. The advantage is for everyone --- Bahrainis, Americans, British."

Last week Bahrain's Crown Prince Salman told an international conference that he wanted a "return to dialogue" (see separate EA entry), which broke down soon after the February 2011 protests amidst the decision of others in the regime to crack down on dissent.

The BBC article does not offer Sheikh Ali Salman's response to that call.

0805 GMT: Egypt. With protests easing after Tuesday night's rival demonstrations, attempt on Wednesday shifted to the politicians and the military in the manoeuvres over the referendum on the draft Constitution. 

The Government made a necessary adjustment, spreading the vote over the next two Saturdays, because of the shortage of judges who are willing to supervise the process. Opposition groups, including the National Salvation Front coalition, withdrew their call to postpone the referendum --- instead, they are calling on people to vote No.

However, the most telling move may have come from the Army. On Tuesday, it played political broker, calling a "unity meeting" for politicians --- including Morsi and the National Salvation Front.

Yesterday, when Front leader Amr Moussa, a former Secretary General of the Arab League, said, "OK, we will participate," he was given the news that the acceptance was too late: the Army --- from frustration? as a signal to politicians on all sides? --- had called off the meeting.

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