Egyptian opposition to shun Mursi’s national dialogue

CAIRO, (Reuters) – President Mohamed Mursi was expected to press ahead today with talks on ways to end Egypt’s worst crisis since he took office even though the country’s main opposition leaders have vowed to stay away.

Cairo and other cities have been rocked by violent protests since Nov. 22, when Mursi promulgated a decree awarding himself sweeping powers that put him above the law.

The upheaval in the most populous Arab nation, following the fall of Hosni Mubarak last year, worries the West, in particular the United States, which has given it billions of dollars in military and other aid since Egypt made peace with Israel in 1979.

Mohamed Mursi

Mursi’s deputy raised the possibility that a referendum set for Dec. 15 on a new constitution opposed by liberals might be delayed. But the concession only goes part-way towards meeting the demands of the opposition, who also want Mursi to scrap the decree awarding himself wide powers.

Yesterday, large crowds of protesters surged around the presidential palace, breaking through barbed wire barricades and climbing on tanks guarding the seat of Egypt’s first freely elected president, who took office in June.
As the night wore on, tens of thousands of opposition supporters were still at the palace, waving flags and urging Mursi to “Leave, leave”.

“We will stay here for as long as it takes and will continue to organise protests elsewhere until President Mursi cancels his constitutional decree and postpones the referendum,” said Ahmed Essam, 28, a computer engineer and a member of the liberal Dostour party.

Vice President Mahmoud Mekky issued a statement saying the president was prepared to postpone the referendum if that could be done without legal challenge.

Mursi’s planned dialogue meeting was expected to go ahead on Saturday in the absence of most opposition factions. “Everything will be on the table,” a presidential source said.

Mursi could be joined by some senior judiciary figures and politicians such as Ayman Nour, one of the candidates in Mubarak’s only multi-candidate presidential race, in 2005, in which he was unsurprisingly trounced.

The opposition has demanded that Mursi rescind the decree giving himself wide powers and delay the vote set for Dec. 15 on a constitution drafted by an Islamist-led assembly which they say fails to meet the aspirations of all Egyptians.

The state news agency reported that the election committee had postponed the start of voting for Egyptians abroad until Wednesday, instead of Saturday as planned. It did not say whether this would affect the timing of voting within Egypt. Ahmed Said, leader of the liberal Free Egyptians Party, told Reuters that delaying expatriate voting was intended to seem like a concession but would not change the opposition’s stance.

The opposition organised marches converging on the palace which Republican Guard units had ringed with tanks and barbed wire on Thursday after violence between supporters and opponents of Mursi killed seven people and wounded 350.
Islamists, who had obeyed a military order for demonstrators to leave the palace environs, held funerals on Friday at Cairo’s al-Azhar mosque for six Mursi partisans who were among the dead.

“With our blood and souls, we sacrifice to Islam,” they chanted.

A group led by leftist opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahy has called for an open-ended protest at the palace.

More in World News


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning:

Most Read This Week

  1. Convicted drug trafficker Barry Dataram about to be handed over to local enforcement officials by the Suriname police. Inset is the information page in the fake passport for “David Persaud” that was being used by the fugitive. (Royston Drakes photos)

    Dataram, wife returned to Guyana

  2. Back in court: In this Keno George composite photo, Barry Dataram (left) and his wife Anjanie Boodnarine at court yesterday to answer three charges including fleeing the jurisdiction.

    Dataram to serve eight years in jail after guilty plea to new charges

  3. Dead: Yansen Brusche

    Ulverston mom of four stabbed to death by children’s father

  4. US Ambassador Perry Holloway and Finance Minister Winston Jordan shake hands after the signing of the agreement yesterday.

    Guyana inks pact for reporting to IRS on holdings of US citizens

  5. Updated: Man dies after bandits attack overseas-based Guyanese at Herstelling

  6. Barry Dataram

    Datarams getaway passports had been issued to other people

  7. Dr. Prudence Lewis-Bhola

    Prudence Lewis-Bhola appointed as CEO of broadcasting authority

  8. Cops grilling taxi driver after passenger robbed of $6M on seawall

  9. featured

    Diwali holiday on Oct 29, motorcade set for same day

Recommended For You