Egypt's opposition spurns dialogue with Morsi
Reuters and APCAIRO, Reuters and AP
January 29, 2013, 12:38 am TWN
Egypt's main opposition coalition will not join a national dialogue on Monday called by President Mohamed Mursi because the proposal was not genuine and the group will only attend future talks if a list of conditions are met, members said.
Mursi invited his allies and rivals to talks at 6 p.m. (1600 GMT) on Monday to try to resolve a political crisis and end violence on the streets that erupted during anti-government protests. Five days of unrest has led to 50 deaths.
The National Salvation Front, which rejected a similar call for dialogue last year during another spasm of unrest, saw the Islamist leader's call as “cosmetic and not substantive,” said leading member of the coalition Mohamed ElBaradei.
“We will not go to the dialogue today,” ElBaradei told a news conference after the Front's members met in Cairo to discuss the invitation.
“We will send a message to the Egyptian people and the president of the republic about what we think are the essentials for dialogue. If he agrees to them, we are ready for dialogue.”
The coalition's conditions included a demand that Mursi accept responsibility for the bloodshed and agree to form a government of national salvation, echoing previously unmet demands by the opposition.
“We have accepted dialogue (in the past) and went to the president in his office and spoke to him,” said leftist firebrand politician Hamdeen Sabahy. “We did not refuse dialogue. But the result was he issued an oppressive decree.”
Riot police fired tear gas at rock-throwing protesters in central Cairo on Monday as clashes continued a day after Egypt's president declared a state of emergency in three provinces and vowed to deal “firmly and forcefully” with a wave of political violence roiling the country.
The violence, which began around Friday's second anniversary of the uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, has plunged Egypt once again into political turmoil and exposed the deep fault lines running through the country. More than 50 people have been killed in the unrest.
Port Said, Ismailiya, Suez
In Cairo, hundreds of young protesters fought pitched battles Monday with riot police outside two landmark Nile-side hotels and near the eastern entrance of another Cairo monument, Qasr el-Nil bridge.
Monday's violence fell on the second anniversary of the deadliest day of the 18-day uprising against Mubarak, when thousands of protesters battled police on Qasr el-Nil bridge, fighting back against water cannons, tear gas and gunshots. Police melted away later that day and have yet to fully take back the streets two years later.
President Mohammed Morsi, who has struggled to address the country's daunting social and economic problems since taking power in June, declared in a televised speech late Sunday a 30-day state of emergency in the cities of Port Said, Ismailiya and Suez and their surrounding provinces in an attempt to quell the unrest.