Egypt: Brotherhood won't 'swallow reality'

2013-08-06 07:47
File: AFP

File: AFP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cairo - The Muslim Brotherhood on Monday rejected pleas from international envoys to "swallow the reality" that Mohammed Morsi will not return as Egypt's president.

The envoys from the United States and the European Union, trying to resolve a political crisis brought on by the army's overthrow of the Islamist Morsi a month ago, visited jailed Brotherhood deputy leader Khairat El-Shater in the early hours of Monday.

But he cut the meeting short, saying they should be talking to Morsi, Brotherhood spokesperson Gehad El-Haddad said. People briefed on the meeting described it as long, in some moments intense, but constructive and useful.

From the other side, a senior military source said the army and interim government would offer to free some jailed Muslim Brotherhood members, unfreeze its assets and give it three ministerial posts, in a move to end the crisis.

A source involved in the diplomatic initiative said the releases from prison were expected within hours.

The releases would be a confidence building measure, and the Brotherhood would be expected to make goodwill gestures to show they have good intentions. 

The army spokesperson, Ahmed Ali, said no deal had been reached between the Brotherhood, the military and the government to end Egypt's political crisis.

Several thousand Islamist supporters marched through downtown Cairo calling for Morsi’s reinstatement and denouncing the army general who led his overthrow.

Marchers chanted: "Morsi, Morsi" and "We are not terrorists", and waved pictures of the ousted leader.

The protest showed tensions still running dangerously high in Egypt despite the mediation effort by the United States, the European Union, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

"Things should move soon, otherwise we shall miss this opportunity. This is all still incredibly fragile." said a source involved in the diplomatic initiative.

Minimum damage 

Morsi became Egypt's first freely-elected president in June 2012, 16 months after the overthrow of US-backed strongman Hosni Mubarak, who had ruled for nearly 30 years.

But fears that he was trying to establish an Islamist autocracy, coupled with a failure to ease economic hardships afflicting most of Egypt's 84 million people, led to huge street demonstrations, triggering the army move.

Speaking about the talks in recent days, Brotherhood spokesperson Haddad said the envoys "still carry the position that we should swallow the reality and accept that the military coup has happened and try to recover with minimum damage".

"We refuse to do so," Haddad told Reuters.

There was no agreement on how to start talks, he added.

The state news agency said earlier that diplomats, including US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and European Union envoy Bernardino Leon, had met Shater after midnight at the Tora Prison where he is being held south of Cairo.

Shater is seen as the political strategist of the group that propelled Morsi to office last year, and was arrested on charges of inciting violence after Morsi’s downfall.

He told the envoys that only Morsi could "solve the mess" and the only solution was "full restoration of constitutional legitimacy and reversal of the coup", Haddad said.

"They invited him for discussions but he ended it abruptly ... then he walked out of the room," Haddad said.

Morsi is being held at an undisclosed location, facing an investigation into accusations including murder. Most of the rest of the Brotherhood's leadership is also in custody.

In Washington, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said Burns had no plans to meet Morsi. She suggested no breakthroughs were imminent.

"There is clearly much more work to do. We have the goal of helping the Egyptians get back to a democratically elected, inclusive government," Harf told reporters.

Violence on hold

The diplomatic push has so far helped to hold off further bloodshed between Morsi’s backers and the security forces.

An EU source in Brussels said the mediators were still trying to build confidence between the various sides and did not want to raise expectations.

"The real thing at this stage is to bring people together so they can actually meet and discuss these issues and for that you have to build up some trust and that can be done by very concrete measures, releasing people, dropping charges, not pressing charges, not moving into the squares, lowering the tension," the source said.

Thousands of Morsi supporters remain camped out in two Cairo sit-ins, which the government has pledged to disperse. The government said on Sunday it would give mediation a chance but warned that time was limited.

Almost 300 people have been killed in political violence since Morsi’s overthrow, including 80 shot dead by security forces in a single incident on 27 July.

During Monday's march, protesters sprayed graffiti on walls and statues calling army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led Morsi’s overthrow, a murderer and a traitor.

Security forces made no attempt to disperse a crowd estimated by reporters at several thousand strong.

"The military came and stole our country, they stole everything," said Mahmoud Isuafi, a businessman from the Nile Delta city of Mansoura. "I want democracy. Where is my vote? I can no longer elect my leader so I protest instead."

The military has laid out a plan that could see a new head of state elected in roughly nine months. The Brotherhood, which spent decades in the shadows before Mubarak's downfall, says it wants nothing to do with it.

However, diplomats say the Brotherhood knows Morsi will not return as president and wants a face-saving formula for him to step down that guarantees it a stake in the political future.

Two US senators, Republicans Lindsey Graham and John McCain, arrived in Cairo at President Barack Obama's request to meet members of the new government and the opposition.

Before leaving on the mission, Graham said the Egyptian military must back out of politics quickly or risk a cut of the $1.5 billion in aid it receives from Washington each year.

Read more on:    eu  |  barack obama  |  mohammed morsi  |  abdel fattah al-sisi  |  hosni mubarak  |  us  |  egypt  |  egypt protests  |  north africa  |  egypt crisis

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.