Secular MPs Resign and 22 Million Egyptians Sign Petition Calling for Morsi Departureإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
More than 22 million people have signed a petition in Egypt demanding the departure of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi and a snap election, the opposition Tamarod (Arabic for rebellion) group said on Saturday.
"Our petition has gathered 22,134,465 signatures," Tamarod spokesman Mahmoud Badr told journalists on the eve of Sunday's first anniversary of Morsi's inauguration when it has called for nationwide protests.
This figure is higher than the number of people who voted for Morsi in last year's presidential election -- 13.23 million, or 51.7 percent of the ballots cast.
Previously, Tamarod said 15 million people in Egypt had signed the petition demanding that the president step aside.
Morsi supporters have dismissed the petition as invalid, insisting that only elections can decide whether a head of state stays or goes. His term of office is due to end in 2016.
Meanwhile, a group of secular-leaning deputies resigned also on Saturday from Egypt's acting parliament in support of the people, they said.
At least eight deputies formally resigned from the Islamist-dominated Shura Council, Egypt's traditionally toothless upper house which took over legislative duties after parliament dissolved last year.
Several others had tendered their resignations but they are yet to be accepted, upper house speaker Ahmed Fahmy said in a statement.
The resignations come as Egypt is deeply divided between Morsi's mainly Islamist supporters and a broad-based opposition.
The president is accused of betraying the 2011 revolution that brought him to power, concentrating power in the hands of Islamists and failing to manage the country's affairs.
"We gave them a chance to lead a reconciliation but they didn't. The resignation comes to support the popular trend in Egypt," said outgoing deputy Mona Makram Ebeid.
Ihab al-Kharatt, who heads the human rights council at the Shura Council, said at least 22 deputies had quit.
"We resigned in support of 22 million Egyptians who withdrew their confidence from Morsi," Kharatt told Agence France Presse.
The country was bracing on Saturday for the protests marking the first anniversary of Morsi's term in office amid violence in which several people have been killed, including a young American.
Opposition protests have sparked counter-demonstrations by the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies that have triggered often bloody clashes across the country.
Morsi, 62, stands accused by his critics of failing the 2011 revolution that brought him to power and of ignoring nearly half of the electorate of around 50 million who did not vote for him last year.