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Egypt security forces lock down Tahrir Square ahead of call for public gathering Open in fullscreen

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Egypt security forces lock down Tahrir Square ahead of call for public gathering

No gatherings or traffic disruptions were seen at the square on Friday. [Getty]

Date of publication: 31 August, 2018

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Friday's deployment comes after recently arrested ex-diplomat Masoum Marzouk called for a "public gathering" at the square.

Egyptian anti-riot police and central security forces have been deployed around Cairo's Tahrir Square in apparent anticipation of a possible gathering.

Friday's deployment comes after recently arrested ex-diplomat Masoum Marzouk called for a "public gathering" at the square - epicentre of the country's 2011 uprising - on 31 August if the government rejected his proposal for a referendum on its performance.

No gatherings or traffic disruptions were seen at the square Friday.

Marzouk, a veteran of the 1973 war with Israel, was arrested last week along with other critics and faces charges including belonging to a terrorist group aiming to overthrow the government.

He had proposed a roadmap for a political transition.

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was re-elected earlier this year in a vote in which all potentially serious competitors were arrested or pressured into withdrawing.

The government has since been ruling with an iron fist, banning unauthorised protests and jailing thousands of people since 2013 in a massive crackdown on dissent.

Marzouk's announcement sparked social media debate, with his name trending on Twitter alongside messages in support of the referendum.

The Arabic-language hashtag #SisiLeave gained traction this summer after steep price hikes of fuel, water and electricity.

The austerity measures, which are designed to overhaul the economy, have hit poorest Egyptians hardest.

Sisi has said he was "upset" over the posts, which has "deemed inappropriate".

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