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."

 

Erdogan urges world to recognise Jerusalem as Palestinian capital

Gulf pours funds into West Africa anti-jihadist force

US skeptical about Putin's declaration of military victory in Syria

US-led air strikes kill 23 civilians in Syria

Saudi Arabia lifts decades-long ban on cinemas

Lebanon approves bid for oil, gas exploration

US to present 'irrefutable evidence' of Iran violations

Istanbul 'to remove Gulen links' from street names

Iraq hangs 38 jihadists

Pence to visit Middle East despite controversy

Hamas chief calls for continued Jerusalem protests

EU to repatriate 15,000 migrants from Libya in two months

Syria Kurds fear US ally will desert them after IS defeat

Israeli drugmaker Teva to cut 14,000 jobs over two years

Turkey rescues 51 migrants stranded on rocks

Saudi, UAE hold talks with Yemen Islamists

18 killed after bomber strikes Mogadishu police academy

Israeli air strikes target Hamas military facilities

Israel union calls nationwide strike over pharmaceutical giant job cuts

UN envoy urges Putin to press Assad for elections

Yemen's Huthi rebels release pro-Saleh media staff

Israel intelligence minister invites Saudi prince to visit

Saudi-led strikes kill 30 in rebel-run Yemen prison

Saudi king says Palestinians have 'right' to Jerusalem

Saudi King says determined to confront corruption

South Sudan needs $1.7 billion humanitarian aid in 2018

UAE oil giant floats 10 percent of retail arm to strong interest

Growing concern about rise of far-right in Austria

Saudi, UAE seeks to help West Africa fight terrorism

Somali journalist dies after Mogadishu bombing

Israeli sentenced to four years for arson attack on church

Erdogan risks sabotaging fragile relations with Israel

6.2-magnitude earthquake strikes Iran

Two Gazans killed by Israeli ‘strike’, Israel denies claim

French FM accuses Iran of carving out ‘axis’ of influence

Over 170 dead after South Sudan rival cattle herders clash

Russia begins partial withdrawal from Syria

Russia weary of returning IS jihadists before World Cup, election

EU accused of complicity in Libya migrant rights violations

Pentagon skeptical about Russia's Syria pullout claims

EU says Syria war ‘ongoing’ despite Russia pullout

Istanbul nightclub gunman refuses to testify

Integrating Syrians in Turkey carries implications

US opinion views Muslims and Arabs more favourably but political affiliation makes a difference

Iranian conservative protesters say Trump hastening end of Israel