Reform judge proposes exit to Egypt's crisis, presidential aides remain defiant

Mostafa Ali, Thursday 6 Dec 2012

The former head of the Judges' Club says president should freeze decisions to allow opposition and Islamists to negotiate draft constitution; Morsi aides insist on 'no retreat'

Zakaria Abdel Aziz (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Prominent reform judge Zakareya Abdel-Aziz has issued an initiative to end the current political crisis in the country that has led to bloody confrontations between pro and anti-Morsi forces since Wednesday afternoon and left six dead and 450 injured.

The four-point proposal includes:

- President Mohamed Morsi shall freeze the constitutional declaration he issued on 22 November

- Delaying the constitutional referendum that the president set for 15 December one week

- The president shall call on representatives of the National Salvation Front (who oppose the referendum and current draft of the constitution) and current representatives from the Islamist-led Constituent Assembly to negotiate a resolution for all draft articles disagreed upon on national television

- Protesters, on all sides, must cease all demonstrations until a rescheduled referendum is concluded 22 December

Speaking on Al-Jazeera television Wednesday night, shortly before he issued his crisis-resolution proposals, the veteran anti-Mubarak judge warned that “Egypt is passing through a very difficult period.”

Leaders of the opposition's National Salvation Front, Mohamed ElBaradei, Amr Moussa and Hamdeen Sabbahi, had reiterated their denunciation of the president's recent decisions and insisted that there will be no negotiations with the Muslim Brotherhood until the president cancels the declaration and puts off the referendum.

"We will not agree to participate in any dialogue until the constitutional declaration is annulled," ElBaradei said at a press conference the Salvation Front organised on Wednesday.

Though six presidential advisers have already resigned in protest at the president's recent decisions, several presidential aides and advisers who have chosen to stand by Morsi continued to publicly insist that the president would not compromise on his constitutional declaration or the referendum.

Essam El-Haddad, the president's adviser on foreign affairs, who is heading an Egyptian delegation to Washington, told CNN that he rejects the opposition's stance on the draft constitution and its demand that the president cancel the referendum.

"If we are going to ask the people to have the final say on the draft constitution then why would we want to cancel the referendum?"

The people can amend the constitution when the country elects a new parliament, El-Haddad, a career Muslim Brotherhood operative, added.

Striking a similarly defiant tone, the president's chief of staff, Refaa Tahtawi, told reporters Thursday morning "There will be no return to the past; there will be solutions for the future."

Tahtawi, a one-time ambassador, added that President Morsi would address the nation sometime on Thursday in order to announce measures to deal with the crisis. No details were given.

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