An anti-Mursi protester talks to soldiers near the presidential palace in Cairo yesterday.
CAIRO: Egypt’s main opposition coalition rejected yesterday Islamist President Mohammed Mursi’s plan for a constitutional referendum this week, saying it risked dragging the country into “violent confrontation”.
Mursi’s decision on Saturday to retract a decree awarding himself wide powers failed to placate opponents who accused him of plunging Egypt deeper into crisis by refusing to postpone the vote on a constitution shaped by Islamists. “We are against this process from start to finish,” Hussein Abdel Ghani, spokesman of the National Salvation Front, told a news conference, calling for more street protests tomorrow.
The Front’s main leaders — Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy — did not attend the event.
Thousands of protesters milled around Mursi’s palace, despite tanks, barbed wire and other barriers installed last week after clashes between Islamists and their rivals killed seven people.
“Holding a referendum now in the absence of security reflects haste and an absence of a sense of responsibility on the part of the regime, which risks pushing the country towards violent confrontation,” a statement from the Front said.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which propelled Mursi from obscurity to power, urged the opposition to accept the referendum’s verdict.