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."

 

Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

Syria, Russia support UN in suspending Aleppo fighting

Pope to rebuild bridges with Islamic world in Turkey visit

OPEC meets for pivotal decision on oil output

Lebanese diva Sabah passes away

Powers to push for Iran nuclear deal before new deadline

Iraqi forces, tribesmen battle IS jihadists in Ramadi

Egypt jails 78 minors for pro-Morsi protests

US slams Assad regime for ‘continued slaughter’

Regime indiscriminate strikes kill scores in Islamic State 'capital' in Syria

Putin meets with Syria Foreign Minister in Black Sea retreat of Sochi

Britain rushes to fight terror with controversial bill

Gunmen kill 3 Egypt policemen in fresh terrorist attack

Iran lawmakers finally approve third Rouhani science minister pick

Turkey clears only suspect in alleged poisoning of former president

Huthis humiliate Al-Ahmar clan with capture of Sanaa headquarters

Christians hold out in Syria second city despite Daesh threat

Libya’s Derna emerges as new IS stronghold

Egypt to reopen Rafah border crossing Wednesday

Egypt leader begins two-day trip to France

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline

Russia trims oil output

UN chief calls for halt to Libya air strikes

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy

Morocco arrests six over online IS allegiance pledge

Iraqi forces retake areas near Iran border from jihadists

Southern Morocco storms claim eight lives

Marzouki, Essebsi set for runoff in Tunisia presidential vote

Biden wraps up Turkey visit without breakthrough on Syria

Sudan launches investigation into claims of 'mass rape' in Darfur village

Assad urges ‘real pressure’ on backers of 'terror'