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."

 

US backs Saudi-led intervention in Yemen

Saudi-led coalition keeps up raids against Yemen rebels

Assad says open to dialogue with US

US lawmakers threaten Iran with new sanctions

Gulf stocks regain ground after early losses over Yemen

Turkish parliament passes security bill after long debate

Turkey army chief of staff visits historic tomb inside Syria

Heavy Saudi raids force Sanaa residents to flee

Israeli Arab MP walks for Bedouins

Kerry presses Iran on nuclear deal before deadline

Somali pirates seize Iranian fishing vessel

Borse Dubai sells big stake in London Stock Exchange

Can Arabs form joint military force?

Libya rivals discuss UN-backed peace proposals

French President to join 'anti-terror' march in Tunis

Sisi underscores Egypt’s rights to tap Nile water

US-led coalition aircraft bomb Tikrit

Saudi warplanes strike Yemen rebels in Sanaa

Netanyahu to form Israel new government after shock victory

Turkey military responds to Kurdish attacks in southeast

Leaders see horror of air crash as investigators step up probe

Fistfight in Iraqi Kurdish parliament

Syria rebels seize ancient town of Busra Sham

UN reveals plethora of abuses against activists in Libya

IS attack kills 5 militia fighters in Libya city of Sirte

Yemen President ‘in safety’ as rebel forces advance

US considering launching air strikes on Tikrit

Yemen Huthis seizes key airbase near Aden

'Feminist' policy costing dear to Sweden

Obama says row with Netanyahu ‘substantive’

Tunisia honours victims of deadly attack on national museum

Roadside bomb kills two Egypt soldiers in restive Sinai

‘Islamic State’ woos Syria children with money: More than 400 recruited in 2015 alone

Huthi-led militia push on southern Yemen

US envoy to Libya leaves Twitter after barrage of online abuse

US provides 'eye in the sky' to support Iraq Tikrit operation

Turkey prosecutors launch probe as ruling party rift grows

German airliner crashes in southern France with 150 on board

Egypt sacks spokesman who said Shaima al-Sabbagh was too thin

At least 30 killed in central Yemen clashes

Tunisia national museum reopening delayed over security concerns

Kuwait riot police disperse small opposition protest

Netanyahu apologises to Arab Israeli voters

Libyan pro-got warplanes target weapons depot near Tripoli

Libya pro-government forces target weapons depot near Tripoli