Cabinet to consider ‘next step’ after political impasse: Government source

Dina Ezzat , Wednesday 7 Aug 2013

Government sources fear 'little hope' for way forward as cabinet prepares to convene Wednesday to review outcome of recent mediation efforts

Egypt's interim Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei (L) meets with US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns (C) and The European Union envoy Bernardino Leon in Cairo in this handout picture dated August 6, (Photo: Reuters).

After Egypt's presidency announced the failure of mediation efforts to jump-start reconciliation between the interim government and the Muslim Brotherhood, a government official told Ahram Online that preparations are underway for a cabinet meeting early Wednesday afternoon to consider possible outcomes of the failure.

The failed mediation efforts were aimed at reintegrating the Islamist group within the political process following the popularly-backed army ouster of president Mohamed Morsi on 3 July.

"There seems very little hope left that there could be a way forward. We were hoping to reach an understanding. We worked hard and were very open to all possible mediations, but things did not work out," the government source said. He added that the cabinet meeting will convene to review the outcome of a series of political and diplomatic talks in which the state was involved during the past weeks, especially during the last few days.

The presidency released a statement early Wednesday announcing the failed mediation's outcome.  The statement claimed that the government went the extra mile to reassure the Muslim Brotherhood, however the group made impossible demands that disregarded the public will demonstrated on 30 June.

The government source said that the cabinet meeting would issue an appeal – the third in two weeks – for the Muslim Brotherhood to end their sit-ins in Cairo and Giza which "have not met the standards of peaceful marches and sit-ins."

"If the Muslim Brotherhood does not respond positively, then it would be up to law enforcement bodies to decide the next step in collaboration with the rest of the cabinet,” the same source added.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Diyab, a Muslim Brotherhood figure and spokesman for the National Coalition for Legitimacy – which is opposed to Morsi's ouster – told Ahram Online that the sit-ins "would not be ordered to disperse" by the Muslim Brotherhood leadership "because these sit-ins reflect the will to re-establish the legitimacy of the elected president."

Diyab, who said he was speaking from the sit-in of Cairo's Rabaa Al-Adawiya Mosque, blamed the authorities for the failure to reach a deal "based on the legitimacy of the president and the constitution."

"We were open to a deal that would have recognised legitimacy," Diyab added.

US, EU and Arab mediators tried during the last week to strike a deal that would convince the Muslim Brotherhood leadership to order the sit-ins' dispersal.  The deal failed because the Islamist group would not back down on their extensive demands, authorities say.

"Their demands overlooked the new legitimacy that was established by the 30 June demonstrations," said another government source.

Inaugurated on 30 June 2012 as the nation's first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, a leading figure of the long outlawed and persecuted Muslim Brotherhood, served only one year in office after facing mass protests against what his opponents called major political and economic failures.

Morsi is under detention pending investigation into charges of jailbreak and espionage. The former president has been held in an undisclosed location since his ouster, however in late July he was visited by international delegations hoping to encourage him to reach a political deal.

The failure of the mediation efforts could effectively mean that security personnel will disperse the sit-ins by force, with casualties expected. 

On Thursday, Egyptian Muslims will celebrate the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan and the start of the feast.  It is unlikely, according to identical government and security sources, that the sit-ins would be forced to disperse before the second or third day of the feast.

As joint international-Arab mediation efforts hit an impasse, Egyptian political figures are making a last ditch effort to prevent a political showdown.  One such group is urging Muslim Brotherhood leaders to consider a deal with the authorities that would secure the group and its continued political participation in exchange for an end to the sit-ins.

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