A man walks on Tahrir Square after it was partially reopened to traffic, in front of tents that remain on the central island after recent demonstrations by those opposing deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Mursi.
UNITED NATIONS: The political affairs chief of the United Nations arrived in Cairo yesterday for a series of discussions with Egyptian authorities and Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
Jeffrey Feltman is “to hold wide-ranging talks with a focus on how the UN can best support initiatives to restore peace and forge reconciliation in Egypt,” said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky.
Feltman will report his findings to the UN Security Council when he returns from the talks, which are set to last through Friday.
Meanwhile, the Security Council met behind closed doors yesterday for a monthly meeting to discuss the situation in the Middle East.
Diplomats said that Egypt came up but there was no consensus and a public statement was not issued.
The ambassadors were “very concerned at the sectarian characteristics of the violence and attacks against churches and public buildings” one diplomat said.
In Brussels, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said that she had offered to return to Cairo to help facilitate a way out of the country’s crisis.
“I have offered to go back. I told the Egyptian prime minister at the weekend that I would be more than willing to go back to Egypt if they wish me to come back,” Ashton told reporters on the eve of an extraordinary meeting of EU foreign ministers to discuss a response to events in Egypt.
Ashton travelled twice to the country last month following the July 3 ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Mursi after massive protests against his administration.
On July 30 she was the first senior foreign official to meet Mursi who is in detention in a secret location.
During her last visit she and the EU’s special envoy for the southern Mediterranean, Bernadino Leon, sought to facilitate a political deal including the Muslim Brotherhood.
But foreign mediation efforts by the EU, the United States and the Gulf nations broke down. The situation in the last days has degenerated further, with almost 900 people reported dead in six days.
Ashton said the 28-nation bloc had “worked on ideas to try and have confidence-building measures with the different groups in Egypt, across the political spectrum, and to try and help support a political solution.
“We remain ready to offer our support to achieve that, not interference, support,” she said.
In Egypt, in a sign of a new wave of politically driven lawsuits being brought to court following the downfall of Mursi,
Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt’s former vice president, will be sued in court for a “betrayal of trust” over his decision to quit the army-backed government in protest at its bloody crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood.
The case, brought by an Egyptian law professor, will be heard in a Cairo court on September 19, judicial sources said.
ElBaradei, former head of the UN nuclear agency and co-leader of the secular National Salvation Front grouping, was the most prominent liberal to endorse the military’s overthrow of President Mohammed Mursi on August 3 following mass protests.
But he resigned on August 14 after security forces used force to crush the protest camps set up by Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters in Cairo, killing hundreds of people.
The case was filed by Sayyed Ateeq, a law professor at Helwan University.
“He was appointed in his capacity as a representative of the NSF and the majority of the people who signed the Tamarod declaration,” he said, referring to the coalition that led the anti-Mursi protests.
“Dr ElBaradei was entrusted with this position and he had a duty to go back to those who entrusted him and ask to resign.”
The media head of the Dostour party, founded by ElBaradei, condemned the case.
Khaled Daoud said the lawyer who brought the case “set a precedent that harms Egypt’s reputation abroad, when a politician is prosecuted just for resigning from his post, something that has never happened before in any country in the world”.
Ateeq said if found guilty, ElBaradei could face a three-year jail term. But a source said the maximum sentence that could be imposed in a case of this kind was a fine and a suspended jail term.