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Morsy supporters hunker down and wait. Is a crackdown imminent in Egypt?

By Holly Yan and Reza Sayah, CNN
August 13, 2013 -- Updated 0011 GMT (0811 HKT)
  • NEW: "We hope that not a single drop of Egyptian blood is spilled," says an Interior Ministry spokesman
  • Governors and deputies will be sworn in Tuesday, interim president's spokesman says
  • Thousands of protesters are demanding ousted President Mohamed Morsy be reinstated
  • Hundreds have been killed in recent weeks amid the political turmoil

Editor's note: Have you witnessed the protests in Egypt? Send us your images and video, but stay safe.

Cairo (CNN) -- At two massive makeshift camps that have been their home for six chaotic weeks, supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy hunkered down Monday -- and waited.

With the Muslim holy month of Ramadan over, could the fierce crackdown that the government has hinted at come any minute?

Media reports indicated security forces may start breaking up the camps Monday. They did not.

"We hope that negotiations can end the situation peacefully. We hope that not a single drop of Egyptian blood is spilled," Abdel Fattah Othman, an Interior Ministry spokesman, told Al Tahrir TV on Monday.

He said the ministry has a plan, resources are ready and troops are prepared to take action once the appropriate political and security clearances are given.

When asked if a decision had been made to act, Othman said the decision must be made based on events on the ground and stressed the decision is not just about security -- but also about politics.

One day earlier, an unnamed ministry official said that all options were on the table, according to the state-run Ahram Online news site.

The official added that security forces have amped up their presence recently near the sites: one near the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque in eastern Cairo, and a smaller one near the Cairo University campus.

The camps, packed with protesters refusing to budge until Morsy is reinstated, have morphed into cities within a city.

But far from being reinstated, Morsy will be detained for an extra 15 days, Ahram Online reported Monday. The Egyptian Justice Department ordered the extension as it investigates, the news outlet said.

Egyptian media also reported that 27 governors and 11 deputies will take a constitutional oath Tuesday before Interim President Adly Mansour, according to Mansour's spokesman.

Back at the camps, thousands throng, living and sleeping in tents -- some with their families.

Vendors sell everything from bottled water to masks. Children play in inflatable castles and splash in kiddie pools.

The government have accused the protesters of packing the sites with their children to use them as human shields.

"We are living here," a woman named Ranya said. "We cannot leave our children and come here. We have to bring them with us."

The protesters say they're ready and have vowed to put up a fight.

"The youngest child among us will be a lion against them," said a protester named Haneen. "They want to come in; they're welcome. What makes them so frustrated is that we are peaceful."

Anticipating an imminent crackdown, the demonstrators have fortified their sites with sandbags, tires and stacks of bricks.

Volunteers pat down visitors and check bags.

The government has authorized security forces to take "all necessary measures to face these dangers and end them."

Occasionally, a military helicopter flies by overhead.

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The sites are clearly the focal point of this political fight. And how the interim government responds will be a defining moment in this complex standoff.

McCain visits Egypt, calls ouster of Morsy a 'coup'


The protests started soon after Egypt's military toppled Morsy in a coup last month.

Hundreds have been killed and thousands have been injured in recent weeks, either in clashes between opposing protesters or in clashes between protesters and Egyptian security forces.

Last month, Information Minister Durriya Sharaf el-Din said the gatherings were a threat to national security and traffic congestion.

And two weeks ago, Mansour issued orders in the event of a possible "state of emergency," the EGYnews website reported.

"State of emergency" is a loaded term in Egypt. Former President Hosni Mubarak ruled for 30 years under an emergency decree that barred unauthorized assembly, restricted freedom of speech and allowed police to jail people indefinitely.

A high-level security source told EGYnews that security forces would approach the task of clearing out the sites according to the law and in phases, beginning with a warning, then use tear gas until the need for legitimate self-defense.

Egypt explained: 6 key questions

What happened to Morsy?

Morsy became Egypt's first democratically elected president in 2012, a year after popular protests forced Mubarak to resign and end his three-decade rule.

But a year into Morsy's term, many Egyptians wanted him out, too. They said the Western-educated Islamist, aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood movement, was not inclusive and they said he had failed to deliver on the people's aspirations for freedom and social justice.

Morsy was accused of authoritarianism and trying to force the Brotherhood's Islamic agenda onto the nation's laws. He was also criticized by many Egyptians frustrated with rampant crime and a struggling economy that hadn't shown improvement since Mubarak resigned.

But supporters say Morsy repeatedly offered Cabinet positions to secularists and liberals -- only to get repeatedly rejected.

Since taking power from Morsy, Egypt's military has installed an interim civilian government with Mansour as interim president.

But Egypt's generals, the ones who oversaw Morsy's ouster and led the country for a year after Mubarak's resignation, still wield significant power.

The list of accusations against Morsy include: collaborating with the militant group Hamas to carry out hostile acts, attacking law enforcement buildings, officers and soldiers, storming prisons, vandalizing buildings and deliberately burning a prison.

CNN's Reza Sayah reported from Cairo; Holly Yan wrote from Atlanta

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