CAIRO - Egyptian police battled thousands of protesters outside President Mohamed Morsi's palace in Cairo on Tuesday, prompting the Islamist leader to leave the building, two presidential sources said.

Police fired teargas at demonstrators angered by Morsi's drive to hold a referendum on a new constitution on December 15. Some broke through police lines around his palace and protested next to the perimeter wall.

Several thousand people had gathered nearby in what they dubbed "last warning" protests against Morsi, who infuriated opponents with a November 22 decree that expanded his powers. "The people want the downfall of the regime," the crowd chanted.

"The president left the palace," a presidential source, who declined to be named, told Reuters. A security source at the presidency also said the president had left the building.

Morsi ignited a storm of unrest in his bid to prevent a judiciary still packed with appointees of ousted predecessor Hosni Mubarak from derailing a troubled political transition.

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