Morsi calls for 'national dialogue'
Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi invited political groups and other figures to meet on Saturday for a national dialogue on a political roadmap after a referendum on a new constitution.
"I call for a full, productive dialogue with all figures and heads of parties, revolutionary youth and senior legal figures to meet this Saturday," Mr Morsi said in a televised address today, saying the meeting would be at his official palace.
As well as drawing up a roadmap, he said they would discuss the fate of the upper house of parliament after the lower house was dissolved in June, the election law and other issues.
Mr Morsi is under fire after expanding his powers by decree and submitting a constitution drafted mostly by Islamists to a referendum on December 15th. He tonight said plans for the referendum were on track.
Activists say the draft constitution fails to protect freedoms and minority rights, and accuse Mr Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood of betraying the aims of last year's uprising against Hosni Mubarak.
The president and his Islamist supporters say they are trying to protect the gains of the revolution against remnants of the old regime, especially in the judiciary.
The cycle of demonstrations for and against the president has fueled concerns that Mr Morsi's government will struggle to revive an economy that stalled after the uprising as investors and tourists stayed away.
Egypt's opposition coalition, the National Salvation Front, said it was assessing Mr Morsi's offer.
"We are still assessing the president's speech and call for talks. We are discussing it with our members and youths," the alliance spokesman, Hussein Abdel-Ghani, told Reuters.
Other officials in the Front echoed those comments.
The Muslim Brotherhood's main office in Cairo was reportedly set ablaze tonight, the group's political party said, and another office used by the party was torched in a suburb south of the city, the state news agency reported.
The Freedom and Justice Party said on its Facebook page that the headquarters in the Mukattam district had been attacked in "a terrorist aggression" by thugs.
The state news agency said the office used by the FJP was set ablaze in the Cairo suburb of Maadi. Another office was broken into near the city centre, it said
Egypt's Republican Guard restored order around the presidential palace today after clashes killed seven people and injured hundreds, but passions ran high in a contest over the country's future.
Calling for calm, Gen Mohamed Zaki told the state-run Middle East News Agency that the troops would not be used against the protesters.
"The armed forces, and at the forefront of them the Republican Guard, will not be used as a tool to oppress the demonstrators," he said.
"I am personally extremely concerned about the safety of every Egyptian citizen, and that the clashes that happened around the presidential palace yesterday not be repeated," he said.