Tens of thousands of supporters of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi gathered for dawn prayers on Thursday (August 8) to celebrate the start of the Eid al-Fitr holidays, as the country remained on edge following the collapse of mediation efforts to end a worsening political crisis.

Morsi's supporters began arriving early at the vigil they have held since the military ousted him on July 3rd and which the authorities have repeatedly threatened to clear out by force.

Egypt's interim government has put in place a political transition process which it says Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood can join, but has rejected his supporters' main demand that Morsi be reinstated.

Acting President Adli Mansour, in a message on the eve of the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday last night, said Egypt was in critical circumstances and that the government would press on with its own plan to hold new elections in nine months, he said.

Egyptians celebrate Eid, which marks the end of the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan, from Thursday to Sunday (August 11), an inauspicious time for any act of violence.

Egypt's leading Islamic authority on Wednesday (August 7) announced plans to host talks on the crisis after Eid, which might also forestall an assault by the security forces.

Presented by Adam Justice