Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya urges referendum on early presidential elections: Reuters

Ahram Online, Reuters, Wednesday 3 Jul 2013

Tarek El-Zomor, a senior member of the Islamist group, urges Mohamed Morsi to hold a referendum on early presidential elections to prevent bloodshed and protect constitution

Ultra-conservative Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya has called on President Mohamed Morsi to hold a referendum on early presidential elections, Tarek El-Zomor, a senior member of the group, told Reuters.

The statement by the group – a close ally of the president – comes after Morsi gave a speech late on Tuesday stating that he would not step down. Morsi claimed he would remain president not for authority and power but to protect the legitimacy of the Egyptian constitution, which was drafted and passed during his first year in office.

"This peaceful, constitutional transfer (of power) will spare blood," El-Zomor told Reuters by telephone, adding that it would also protect the constitution that was passed into law in December.

He said the army's statement on Monday appeared to presage a coup, but this "can be avoided if the president decides to hold a referendum on early presidential elections."

Morsi proposed an initiative that included forming a new government, holding parliamentary elections within six months, forming a committee to review proposed constitutional amendments, resolving disagreements over Egypt's prosecutor-general, and promoting the inclusion of youth in government.

The opposition did not accept Morsi's proposals and called for nationwide protests, including in front of the Qobba presidential palace, where Morsi now resides.  

Egyptians are counting down until 16:30pm (14:30 GMT) when the army's 48-hour deadline ends. The army gave Morsi and the opposition the deadline to find an agreement, or else, according to the army's statement on Monday, it will take matters into its own hands and propose a 'roadmap' to move forward.

Morsi dismissed the army's statement stating that no one, either "internally or externally," will interfere in Egypt's affairs.

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