First Published: 2012-12-07

 

Egypt opposition says No to Morsi talks offer

 

Opposition’s rejection of President’s dialogue offer raise prospect of further escalation of Egypt’s crisis.

 

Middle East Online

By Christophe de Roquefeuil - CAIRO

The crisis is set to worsen

Egypt's mainly secular opposition rejected an offer of dialogue from Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on Friday raising the prospect of further escalation of a crisis that already turned bloody earlier this week.

Funerals for several of the seven people killed in Wednesday night clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents -- all said to be members of the Muslim Brotherhood which backed him for the presidency -- were to be held on Friday, the traditional day of Muslim prayer and rest.

Opposition coalition the National Salvation Front called for more mass demonstrations after the main midday prayers, in a possible test for soldiers and anti-riot police guarding the presidential palace with tanks and barbed wire barricades.

The opposition bloc accused Morsi of rejecting "repeated demands to him to offer consensus solutions... to lift Egypt out of its current disastrous situation."

It accused the president of "dividing Egyptians between his 'supporters of legitimacy'... and his opponents, whom he calls 'thugs'."

In a televised speech late on Thursday, Morsi defended giving himself sweeping new powers by decree last month, and said he would push on with a December 15 referendum to change Egypt's constitution along lines drafted by a mostly Islamist panel.

Morsi said he was ready to hold talks with the opposition on Saturday, but showed little inclination to compromise.

The scene outside the presidential palace was calm ahead of noon prayers but security was tight, an AFP correspondent reported.

Around a dozen tanks and armoured troops carriers were deployed in the vicinity, with soldiers and riot police massed behind barbed wire barricades. On Thursday, they had cleared the area.

Protests were expected to swell after the main prayers.

Youth activist group April 6 called for marches from all of Cairo's mosques to converge on the capital's main squares.

The demonstrations seen this week were the biggest since Morsi took office in June. The street clashes were also reminiscent of the upheaval in February 2011 that toppled veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

In his speech late on Thursday, Morsi said the referendum on the constitution would go ahead as planned, adding that "afterwards... everyone must follow its will."

He said: "We respect peaceful freedom of speech but I will never allow anyone to resort to killing and sabotage."

Hundreds of opposition protesters tried to storm the Cairo headquarters of the Muslim Brotherhood as he made his speech, but were pushed back by riot police firing tear gas.

At least four of Morsi's advisers have quit over the crisis, and the Cairo stock market has taken a heavy hit.

The United States and European Union have called for dialogue to resolve the crisis.

US President Barack Obama expressed "deep concern" in a call to Morsi on Thursday, the White House said.

Obama also told Morsi that it was "essential for Egyptian leaders across the political spectrum to put aside their differences and come together to agree on a path that will move Egypt forward."

 

Turkey concedes including Assad in Syria talks

Trump to be sworn in as 45th US president

IS demolishes two more monuments in Palmyra

Iran losing hope of saving trapped firefighters

More than 40 jihadists killed in north Syria air strikes

Netanyahu congratulates ‘friend’ Trump in tweet

Israel denounces Belgian plan to interrogate ex-minister

Denmark grants soldiers permission to fight IS in Syria

Car bomb near Benghazi mosque wounds 12

UN calls IS destruction of Palmyra relics ‘war crime’

Armed settlers rescued from angry Palestinian villagers

Petition filed for Israeli court to return body of Bedouin

29 Yemen rebels killed by Saudi-led air strikes

Algeria’s Islamist parties unite ahead of April elections

British worker dies on Qatar 2022 World Cup site

Search continues for trapped Iran firefighters

Trump to retain envoy to anti-IS coalition

More than 20 firefighters feared dead in Tehran building collapse

Explosions in Gaza target Fatah member

UN expert tells Saudi to end ban on women driving

Desalination plant opens in Gaza to tackle water crisis

Syria’s Assad hopes rebels disarm after Astana talks

UN says 400,000 Syrian child refugees in Turkey not in school

Libya PM skips Davos to focus on electricity crisis

Greece, Cyprus insist peace deal must include Turkish withdrawal

Mistura to lead UN delegation at Astana Syria talks

Turkey slams French satire song about Istanbul attack

Saudi minister says kingdom to become ‘softer’ after reforms

Bahrain lifts ban on electronic Al-Wasat newspaper

Arab Israelis strike in protest over house demolitions

Iran sees Syria talks as opportunity to gain influence

Kuwait upholds sentence for three royals for insulting judges

Tunisia facing mounting calls against jail-for-joint law

Iran's oldest high-rise building on fire collapses

IMF says Egypt on track for next aid tranche

Bahrain police disperse Shiite protesters

Key Syria rebel group opts out of Astana peace talks

Moroccan Sufi ‘living master’ dies at 95

France says Iraqi jihadist among 2015 stadium bombers

Russia, Turkey stage first joint air strikes against IS in Syria

IS advances on terrified citizens of Syria’s Deir Ezzor

In path to greater executive power, Erdogan faces weak Turkey economy

Switzerland drops war crimes case against former Algerian defence minister

Patience wears thin in Iraq's Fallujah

Iraq forces 'liberate' eastern Mosul