The Egyptian opposition has refused to negotiate with embattled President Mohamed Morsi. Activists called for mass rallies to be held on Friday to protest the newly written constitution that will be put to a vote next week.
The National Salvation Front, an alliance between Egyptian opposition groups and several political parties, issued a statement saying that the country’s authorities were no longer legitimate rulers. Additionally, opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei appealed to all political forces to reject the dialogue suggested by President Morsi.
The organization is planning 17 separate marches to Cairo’s presidential palace after Friday prayers, calling the massive demonstration the “final ultimatum.”
The statement came after three days of clashes between police and protesters who want to stop the draft constitution from being put to a national referendum. Critics argue the new constitution will limit freedom of expression.
Morsi addressed the nation on Thursday in an attempt to restore stability, but his speech was followed by further violence as protesters stormed and torched the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters in Cairo.
Protesters against Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi attack the Muslim Brotherhood’s headquarters after starting a fire inside the compound in Cairo December 6, 2012 (Reuters / Stringer)
The president refused to cancel the vote on the new constitution, but promised that he would form a new assembly to rewrite the constitution if the current draft is rejected in the referendum.
“Protesters in front of the palace immediately rejected the speech. Many of them held up their shoes to the presidential palace, which is an insult in Egypt,” journalist Bel Trew told RT from Cairo.
Morsi also called for dialogue with the opposition, and offered to meet with them on Saturday in a bid to defuse tensions.
The National Salvation Front rebuffed Morsi’s speech, saying that “the president is ignoring the attempts of the front to save the nation and his ignoring the demands of the people and their protests has closed the door for any efforts for dialogue.”
Anti-Morsi protesters shout slogans at a road leading to the presidential palace in Cairo (Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh)
The Front’s alliance includes the Constitution Party, co-founded by opposition leader Mohamed El-Baradei, the Egyptian Popular Current, the 6 April Youth Movement, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, the Kifaya movement and others.
Morsi fled the presidential palace in Cairo after clashes erupted on Tuesday, returning only after police had dispersed the crowds. On Thursday, the military deployed tanks in the area near the palace to restore order. The clashes resulted in seven deaths and hundreds of injuries.
A military tank with members of the Republican Guard are seen on a road leading to the presidential palace during an anti-Mursi protest in Cairo December 6, 2012 (Reuters / Amr Abdallah Dalsh)