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The opposition said it will soon decide whether to mobilize a boycott of a Dec. 15 referendum on the draft constitution or work for a “no” vote.

Egyptian Vice President Mahmud Mekki said Wednesday the vote will take place as scheduled and invited the opposition to submit their concerns in writing. They have refused to do so.

Also on Wednesday, some private broadcasters shut off their programming to protest the draft constitution’s limitations on freedom of speech and press. That followed a strike by almost a dozen newspapers Tuesday.

Both camps said they are planning huge rallies for Friday, prompting concerns about more violence.

“Well, the situation is certainly extremely volatile,” said Mr. Hassan. “Now it’s a battle of who can mobilize more people to protest against the other. No camp wants to back down.”

Speaking Wednesday at a NATO meeting in Brussels, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Egypt’s unrest shows the urgent need for dialogue between the two camps, The AP reported.

She said the U.S. wants to see a constitution emerge that protects the rights of all Egyptians — men and women, Christian and Muslim.

The opposition and rights groups have criticized the draft constitution, saying it rolls back the rights of women, religious minorities and others.

• Jabeen Bhatti and Charles McPhedran reported from Berlin. Sarah Lynch in Cairo contributed to this article, which is based in part on wire service reports.