lnp3 at panix.com
Sat Dec 8 08:05:38 MST 2012
Egyptian president poised to grant military broader police powers
By Stephanie McCrummen and Abigail Hauslohner,
CAIRO — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi appeared to be preparing
Saturday to grant the military powers to “protect vital institutions”
and arrest people deemed state security threats until a new constitution
is approved and parliamentary elections are held, according to a report
Saturday in the state-run newspaper al-Ahram.
The move was approved by Morsi’s cabinet, the newspaper said, and would
require the president to issue a constitutional declaration for it to
The report was followed by a statement from the nation’s armed forces
saying that they support Morsi’s call for national dialogue, which, if
ignored, would “result in catastrophe.”
“The armed forces are following the current events with sadness and
concern” about divisions in the country that pose “a grave danger,” the
statement said. “These divisions defy the fundamentals of the Egyptian
state, and threaten its national security.”
Morsi was holding a national dialogue session at the presidential palace
Saturday aimed at resolving more than two weeks of political crisis in
which the president and his Islamist backers have been pitted against a
broad coalition of liberals and secularists.
In a sign of divisions within their ranks that Morsi’s government has
sought to exploit, at least one opposition figure, Ayman Nour, joined
the session along with Sheik Ahmed el-Tayeb, the head of al-Azhar,
Egypt’s preeminent Islamic institution.
But other key opposition leaders rejected Morsi’s invitation to
participate in discussions, which unfolded a day after thousands of
opposition protesters converged on the presidential palace, breaking
through barbed wire barricades and chanting slogans against Morsi in
defiance of his call to bridge the country’s expanding political divide.
Morsi’s critics said his speech to the nation Thursday and
demonstrations by his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood on Friday did
more to fan the flames than quell them.
The competing rhetoric and scenes of defiance underscored how the
population has been polarized as it struggles to define the balance of
power in the country nearly two years after the forces now opposing each
other joined hands in the mass uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
Amid calls for a delay to the scheduled Dec. 15 vote on a contentious
draft constitution, Egypt’s High Election Commission said Friday that it
would postpone overseas voting on the charter. The move raised hopes
among some that Morsi might be moving toward making concessions.
But a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, which backs Morsi, said
Friday night that a delay to next week’s vote would be possible only if
the opposition heeded the president’s invitation to dialogue.
Sharaf al-Hourani in Cairo contributed to this report.
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