Egypt's Morsi calls for talks, stresses constitutional poll to be held as planned
In Thursday national address, President Morsi invites opposition to dialogue but stresses that 15 December constitutional referendum will be conducted according to schedule
Ahram Online, Thursday 6 Dec 2012
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (Photo: AP)
Egypt President Mohamed Morsi has invited all political forces to hold dialogue in an effort to put an end to the ongoing dispute over his 22 November constitutional declaration and draft constitution, stressing that the latter would be put before a popular referendum on 15 December as planned.
"I call on everyone to hold dialogue on 8 December in an effort to work things out with love, the rule of law and determination," he said Thursday in a televised address.
"I will meet with legal experts and opposition figures on Saturday at 12:30 [local time] at the presidential headquarters to come up with a solution to save the nation; some decisions will be discussed, such as maintaining the Shura Council [the upper, consultative house of Egypt's parliament]."
He added: "We shall also discuss the post-referendum roadmap, whether the people reject or approve it .. If the constitution is rejected, I will see to it that a new constituent assembly is drawn up."
The National Salvation Front, a recently created umbrella group comprised of many liberal and leftist groups, had earlier issued a statement wherein it said that the "authority" has lost its legitimacy and called for mass protests on Friday.
The front also rejected to engage in dialogue after Wednesday's events.
Clashes erupted after two weeks of simmering tension due to a 22 November constitutional declaration by Morsi, which gave him immunity from judicial oversight and protected the Constituent Assembly (tasked with drafting a new constitution) from dissolution.
The opposition also argues that the draft constitution – which will be put before a popular referendum next week after having been written by Egypt's Islamist-led Constituent Assembly – would have an adverse effect on longstanding revolutionary demands for civil liberties and social benefits.
The clashes have resulted in at least six dead and around 700 injured, with many videos circulating on the internet showing bearded men severely beating civilians. Both camps have also used firearms against each other.
On the bloody confrontations, Morsi repeated the Muslim Brotherhood's stance that some of the violence was stirred up by "paid thugs."
"Violence is not the solution," he asserted. "Wisdom, rationality, peace must be used to solve the current situation."
"Investigations and confessions have shown that some of those arrested have connections to political forces. Other armed assailants were paid," he added.
"Yesterday [Wednesday] was worse than Tuesday. Peaceful protesters were attacked by armed infiltrators … I offer my condolences to the families of all those martyred during the clashes," the president said.
On possible compromises, Morsi said that Article 6 of his contentious constitutional declaration, which stipulates that "the President may take the necessary actions and measures to protect the country and the goals of the revolution," might be eliminated.
"I am not insisting on keeping Article 6 of the declaration if dialogue with political partners leads to that," he said.