Mohamed Ibrahim, interior minister of Egypt (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's cabinet says it will take "all legal measures necessary to confront acts of terrorism and road-blocking" in an apparent warning to supporters of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi who have been camping out in two Cairo sit-ins since the president's ouster.
"Based on the mandate given by the people to the state, and in preservation of the country's higher interest, the cabinet has delegated the interior ministry to proceed with all legal measures to confront acts of terrorism and road-blocking," said interim information minister Dorreya Sharaf El-Din in a cabinet statement Wednesday evening.
"The cabinet has reviewed the country's security situation and has concluded that the dangerous situation in Rabaa and Nahda Squares, including the terrorist acts and road-blocking that has occurred, is no longer acceptable as it constitutes a threat to the country's national security," El-Din added.
Egypt's interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim announced on 27 July that the police and the army were working in coordination to discuss a suitable day for dispersing the two pro-Morsi sit-ins, which hold tens of thousands of protesters.
Ibrahim's statement came following mass demonstrations in Cairo and other cities responding to army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's call for Egyptians to take to the street on 26 July and give the army a "popular mandate to confront terrorism and violence." The Egyptian presidency later accused Morsi supporters of orchestrating organised attacks against the opposing protesters.
In the hours following Friday's protests, police clashed with Morsi supporters near the Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square sit-in, where at least 80 protesters were killed.
Supporters of the elected Morsi – deposed by El-Sisi on 3 July following nationwide protests – continue to press for his reinstatement through demonstrations that have often turned into violent clashes with police forces and unknown assailants.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, has rejected political negotiations, insisting that 3 July was a coup d'état and that Morsi must be reinstated before any dialogue takes place.