Egypt's Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy (Photo: AP)
Egypt's foreign minister said on Monday that although his government stands by the right to peaceful assembly and protests, the “stand-off" in the country cannot continue “endlessly.”
“Law and order has to be in place, and people need to be able to have access to their homes and work and so on. Ultimately this situation has to be resolved very soon,” commented Nabil Fahmy, referring to two ongoing sit-ins in Cairo by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.
The minister stated in a BBC interview that any action to end the ongoing sit-ins would be "consistent with the law."
“If security forces start applying their procedures, they will do that by court order according to the law and according to the standards allowed by the law.”
Government officials and security sources have hinted for days a dispersal of the pro-Morsi sit-ins was imminent and could come as early as Monday.
Loyalists of toppled president Mohamed Morsi, led by his Muslim Brotherhood, have beeng holding two large sit-ins in Giza and northeast Cairo since the days leading up to his ouster on 3 July.
Egypt's army-backed government has repeatedly urged Morsi's backers to quit their protest camps, arguing that they constitute a threat to security. Fahmy stressed that the government had been making every effort to end the sit-ins through "dialogue."
Morsi's Islamist backers called for fresh mass demonstrations both for Monday and Tuesday to demand his reinstatement as president.
The looming crackdown on the pro-Morsi protest camps has fuelled fears of a violent showdown.
In late July, a confrontation between police and protesters on the fringes of their Cairo sit-in left at least 80 pro-Morsi protesters dead.
Over 200 people have been killed in violent clashes since Morsi's popularly-backed overthrow, following nationwide mass protests demanding an end to his one-year rule.