Mursi allies indicate flexibility on talks

Spokesman says constitution holds ‘more than one solution’ to the crisis

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans and hold up posters during a rally marching back towards Rabaa al-Adawiya Square where they are camping, in Cairo yetserday. Photograph: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood and supporters of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans and hold up posters during a rally marching back towards Rabaa al-Adawiya Square where they are camping, in Cairo yetserday. Photograph: Asmaa Waguih/Reuters

Sat, Aug 3, 2013, 15:34

Allies of deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi told mediators today that they respected the demands of a mass protest that led to his downfall but that army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must not be part of any political deal.

Tarek El-Malt, spokesman for the pro-Mursi delegation that met the envoys from the United States and the European Union, also said Mr Mursi’s allies were seeking a solution to Egypt’s crisis based on a constitution suspended after he was deposed.

Mr Malt, speaking to Reuters by telephone after the talks, said Mr Mursi’s allies wanted the constitution restored out of respect for the demands of Mursi supporters protesting in Cairo and whose stated demand is that he be reinstated as head of state.

He said the constitution held “more than one solution” to the crisis. He added that if Mr Mursi’s opponents insist he should not be part of the “political equation”, then “the steadfastness and sit-ins of the millions in the streets for five weeks requires that Sisi must also not be in the political equation”.

Asked whether the delegation had told the envoys that Mr Mursi must be reinstated, Mr Malt said that would be worked out in the details. “This is part of the political initiatives,” he said. “We did not get into the details of the political initiatives.”

The army-installed government had earlier promised supporters of Mr Mursi a safe exit from their protest camps.

Interior ministry spokesman Hany Abdel Latif said the protesters were being manipulated by leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“Your continued sit-ins have no legal or political use. You have a safe exit, you will be politically integrated,” Mr Latif said in an announcement on state television.

Thousands of Mursi supporters have gathered in two camps in the capital to demand the reinstatement of Mr Mursi, an Islamist from the Muslim Brotherhood who was overthrown a month ago to the day.

The military had threatened to remove them by force. But yesterday, following appeals from religious leaders as well as foreign governments to avoid a bloodbath, the interim government said it would blockade the camps but not storm them.

“If you think you’re upholding the Muslim Brotherhood, your safe exit from the squares will allow the group to return to its role within the democratic political process,” Mr Latif said.

“If you think you’re protecting yourself by staying with your colleagues, we pledge your safe and secure return to normal life as a free and honest citizen.”

Mr Latif said many people wanted to leave but they faced threats from the protest leaders. Anyone involved in crimes, including torture, killing and kidnapping, would face prosecution, he said.

“You are brain-washed, subject to psychological manipulation. You are being used as a political-bargaining chip,” he said, directing his comments to the demonstrators.

Mr Mursi became Egypt’s first freely elected president in June 2012, 16 months after a popular uprising toppled long-ruling strongman Hosni Mubarak. He was himself ousted on July 3rd after weeks of demonstrations against his rule.

Almost 300 people have died in political violence since then, including 80 of his supporters killed by security forces in clashes on July 27th. Mr Mursi is now in custody at a secret location. (Reuters)