Morsi sup­port­ers dig in as Egypt talks stall

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - MAG­GIE FICK YASMINE SALEH in Cairo Reuters

Is­lamist sup­port­ers of ousted Egyp­tian pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi con­tin­ued to de­mand his restora­tion on Thurs­day af­ter the mil­i­taryled au­thor­i­ties that re­moved him held off from car­ry­ing out a threat to clear protest sit-ins by force.

In­terim Pres­i­dent Adly Man­sour de­clared on Wed­nes­day that in­ter­na­tional diplo­matic ef­forts to re­solve the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis had failed, and the govern­ment warned pro­test­ers to leave their protest camps, say­ing the de­ci­sion to re­move them was fi­nal.

US and Euro­pean Union en­voys left Cairo on Wed­nes­day af­ter the break­down of their at­tempts to bro­ker a so­lu­tion, which had also in­volved Qatar and the United Arab Emi­rates.

How­ever, a per­son in­volved in the me­di­a­tion ef­fort said the au­thor­i­ties and Morsi’s Mus­lim Brother­hood might yet step back from con­fronta­tion and im­ple­ment mu­tual con­fi­dence build­ing steps that could lead to a ne­go­ti­ated set­tle­ment.

“It’s not over yet,” the diplo­mat said. “It could work but we don’t have any guar­an­tees. Ev­ery­thing is very frag­ile.”

Egyp­tian govern­ment and mil­i­tary sources also said the talks were not fin­ished for good but had been frozen to as­suage pub­lic anger over per­ceived for­eign in­ter­fer­ence in Egypt’s af­fairs and the au­thor­i­ties’ will­ing­ness to ne­go­ti­ate with the Brother­hood af­ter months of de­mo­niz­ing them.

A mil­i­tary source said the au­thor­i­ties were hold­ing back from us­ing force to clear the protest camps partly due to fear that lib­eral Vice-Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed ElBa­radei would re­sign, re­mov­ing a key source of po­lit­i­cal le­git­i­macy for army rule. In­terim Prime Min­is­ter Hazem el-Be­blawi vis­ited the Cen­tral Se­cu­rity Forces with the in­te­rior min­is­ter in an ap­par­ent ef­fort to calm hard­lin­ers im­pa­tient for tougher ac­tion.

“He as­sured them that the govern­ment places se­cu­rity at the top of its pri­or­i­ties and that there is no sta­ble so­ci­ety with­out se­cu­rity that is founded on the law, and that pro­tects the sovereignty of the state and the lives of its cit­i­zens and their pos­ses­sions,” a state­ment from Be­blawi’s of­fice said.

Fes­tive protests

Thou­sands of demon­stra­tors con­verged on a Brother­hood protest camp in north­east­ern Cairo in a fes­tive at­mos­phere to at­tend prayers and a rally on the first day of the Eid al-Fitr hol­i­day af­ter the end of the fast­ing month of Ra­madan.

“I came here be­cause I want to make a small dif­fer­ence,” said Ghada Idriss, who trav­eled from the ru­ral prov­ince of Minya by car with her hus­band, two young sons, and 2- month- old daugh­ter Loug­ine.

“By sit­ting here peace­fully, they will un­der­stand and know that we refuse the re­turn of the sys­tem of Hosni (Mubarak).”

Sec­u­lar and left­ist groups have also called for mass demon­stra­tions and pub­lic prayers across Egypt to sup­port what they see as a pop­u­lar rev­o­lu­tion that led to the over­throw of Morsi by the mil­i­tary on July 3 af­ter just a year in of­fice.

In one ap­par­ent con­cil­ia­tory ges­ture, pros­e­cu­tors dropped the main charge against the head of the Brother­hood’s po­lit­i­cal wing, Saad El-Katatni, on Wed­nes­day in a pos­si­ble pre­lude to re­leas­ing him.

The per­son in­volved in the me­di­a­tion ef­fort said a se­quence of state­ments and con­fi­dence build­ing mea­sures aimed at re­duc­ing ten­sions and re­as­sur­ing pub­lic opin­ion might yet lead to di­rect or in­di­rect ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween the two sides.

So far, the Brother­hood has re­fused to ac­cept what it calls an il­le­gal coup against Morsi and has pub­licly de­manded the re­turn of the elected pres­i­dent, who is de­tained at a se­cret lo­ca­tion.

The new au­thor­i­ties have ac­cused Is­lamist lead­ers of in­cit­ing vi­o­lence, frozen the Brother­hood’s as­sets and vowed to put them on trial.

Train has de­parted

“The train of the fu­ture has de­parted, and ev­ery­one must re­al­ize the mo­ment and catch up with it, and who­ever fails to re­al­ize this mo­ment must take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their de­ci­sion,” in­terim pres­i­dent Man­sour said in an Eid broad­cast.

Diplo­mats have said any set­tle­ment would have to in­volve a dig­ni­fied exit for Morsi, Brother­hood ac­cep­tance of the new dis­po­si­tion, the re­lease of po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers ar­rested since the takeover and a fu­ture po­lit­i­cal role for the Brother­hood.

The United States and the EU said on Wed­nes­day they were very con­cerned that the Egyp­tian par­ties had not found a way to break what they called a danger­ous stale­mate.

AMR AB­DAL­LAH DALSH / REUTERS

Mem­bers of the Mus­lim Brother­hood and sup­port­ers of de­posed Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi shout slo­gans dur­ing a protest on Wed­nes­day at Rabaa Adawiya Square, where they are camp­ing, in Nasr City, east of Cairo.

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