Dec 8, 2012 No Comments ›› Infidel
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s military warned on Saturday of “disastrous consequences” if the crisis that sent tens of thousands of protesters back into the streets is not resolved, signaling the army’s return to an increasingly polarized and violent political scene.
The military said serious dialogue is the “best and only” way to overcome the nation’s deepening conflict over a disputed draft constitution hurriedly adopted by Islamist allies of President Mohammed Morsi, and recent decrees granting himself near-absolute powers.
“Anything other than that (dialogue) will force us into a dark tunnel with disastrous consequences; something which we won’t allow,” the statement said. It was read by an unnamed military official on state television.
Morsi had called for a dialogue Saturday to discuss how to resolve the disagreement as his vice president suggested that a Dec. 15 constitutional referendum could be delayed.
But the main opposition leaders declined to attend, saying talks can only take place if Morsi rescinds his decrees and cancels the referendum.
Most of the public figures at the meeting were Islamists, with the exception of liberal opposition politician Ayman Nour.
And at least three members left the talks soon after they started. Ahmed Mahran, a lawyer who was among them, said: “It was a one-way conversation,” accusing presidential advisers of refusing to listen.
Egypt’s once all-powerful military, which temporarily took over governing the country after the revolution that ousted autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak, was largely sidelined weeks after Morsi was elected.
Weeks after he was sworn in, Morsi ordered the two top generals to retire and gave himself legislative powers that the military had assumed in the absence of a parliament, which had been dissolved by the courts.
Muslim Brotherhood leaders, meanwhile, made their highest profile appearances since the dispute began. The group’s top leader Mohammed Badie and his powerful deputy Khairat el-Shater held press conferences Saturday alleging there was a conspiracy to topple Morsi but presenting little proof.
Badie said the opposition has accused his group of violence but is instead responsible for the attacks on Muslim Brotherhood offices. He also claimed that most of those killed in last week’s violence at the Palace and other governorates were members of the Brotherhood.
“These are crimes, not opposition or disagreement in opinion,” he said.
Meanwhile, with a dialogue largely boycotted by the main opposition players, members of a so-called Alliance of Islamists forces warned it will take all measures to protect “legitimacy” and the president, in comments signaling continued tension.
“We will not allow the revolution to be stolen again,” el-Shater said. “Our main job is to support legitimacy and stop the plot to bring down the president.”
Mostafa el-Naggar, a former lawmaker and protest leader during the uprising that led to Mubarak’s ouster in February 2011, said the conspiracy alleged by the Brotherhood “doesn’t exist.” El-Naggar added that the Brotherhood and military statements suggested the crisis was far from over.
“The military is saying it is still here and will interfere when necessary. This is believed to be when there is widespread infighting,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said Morsi and his group are threatening to widen the conflict by portraying the opposition as conspirators against Islam.
“As it stands, Egypt is captive to internal decisions of the Brotherhood,” he said.