Ex-presidential candidate trio ready for 'serious' talks, warn of general strike

Ahram Online, Saturday 8 Dec 2012

The National Salvation Front - an alliance led by former presidential candidates, ElBaradei, Sabbahi and Moussa - warn of nationwide protests if President Morsi does not rescind power-grabbing decree

The political ambiance in Egypt indicates there will be a nationwide general strike amid incessant protests against President Mohamed Morsi, said Mohamed Abul-Ghar of the National Salvation Front at a news conference on Saturday.

Abul-Ghar, who also heads the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, declared that the front is ready to get involved in a "serious" dialogue to put an end to the ongoing political impasse.

The Front - the main opposition group led by former presidential candidates Mohamed ElBaradei, Hamdeen Sabbahi and Amr Moussa - skipped Saturday's national dialogue with President Morsi, as did most opposition forces.

President Morsi made an open invitation to opposition forces after a week of heavy protests against his recent constitutional declaration.

On 22 November Morsi unilaterally issued a constitutional declaration that made his decisions immune from judicial challenge. Critics argue the decree puts Morsi above the law and constitutionality.

While Morsi's supporters believe that the decree enables the president to cut short the manoeuvres of Mubarak-era judiciary, including replacing prosecutor-general Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, Morsi critics say the elected president betrayed democracy in favour of dictatorship.

Among the many criticisms is that the draft constitution, which should be up for public referendum on 15 December, limits many freedoms by imposing a stricter version of Islamic sharia law.

"We reject the illegitimate constitutional declaration and the referendum on the constitution before reaching a national consensus," Abul-Ghar reiterated the Front's stance.

The presidential office announced Friday during mass protests that Morsi was willing to hold off the referendum. Morsi already postponed the expat vote, which was scheduled for Sunday.

The opposition insists, however, that Morsi annul the constitutional declaration before they enter talks with him.

In the ensuing violence during the most recent protests at least seven were killed and over 1000 injured.

"We call on citizens to hold a peaceful sit-in … We also call on Morsi to dismantle the military militias formed by the Muslim Brotherhood [which Morsi hails from]," Abul-Ghar added.

Many claim that Brotherhood supporters assaulted anti-Morsi protesters using firearms. The Brotherhood have thrown the same accusations back at their opposition.

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