Army chief meets Islamists; Mursi loyalists unswayed
Cairo, 4 August
Intense efforts were under way today to try to resolve Egypt’s political crisis pitting supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi against the army-backed interim leaders.
Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Islamist leaders overnight to try to mediate a solution with Mursi supporters who have staged two major sit-ins for more than a month demanding his reinstatement.
Gen. Sisi “met with several representatives of the Islamist movements… and stressed that there are opportunities for a peaceful solution to the crisis provided all sides reject violence,” army spokesperson Colonel Ahmed Aly said in a statement. Among those attending the talks with Gen. Sisi were influential Salafist clerics Sheikh Mohammed Hassan and Mohammed Abdel Salam, who just days ago was addressing pro-Mursi supporters from the stage at the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in.
“The Islamists who met Sisi, while not members of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been supporting them at the Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in. Hopefully, the Brotherhood will listen to what they have to say to find a way out of the crisis,” a source close to the talks said.
Gen. Sisi’s meetings come after days of intense diplomatic activity that saw visits by US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and an African Union delegation lead by former Mali president Alpha Oumar Konare.
Mr Konare said his team had met “with all parties it wanted to meet… in complete freedom” during their week-long visit. Supporters of Mr Mursi ~ Egypt’s first freely elected president ~ see his 3 July ouster by the military as a violation of democracy and have insisted that nothing short of his reinstatement would end their protests.
Authorities have repeatedly called on them to go home, promising them that a safe exit would allow the Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood to return to political life. After meeting Mr Burns, the Brotherhood’s political arm stressed its continued commitment to “legitimacy, which stipulates the return of the president, the constitution and the Shura Council,” or Upper House of parliament.
Mr Burns’s visit, which followed trips by Ashton and German Foreign
Minister Guido Westerwelle, was the latest move in a diplomatic drive to break the deadlock.
The Islamists’ latest declaration suggested that Burns had failed to shift their position. “We affirm our welcome of any political solutions proposed on the basis of constitutional legitimacy and rejection of the coup,” said the Freedom and Justice Party statement. Mr Burns also met foreign minister Nabil Fahmy in a bid to broker a compromise between the two sides.
Nobel laureate denied entry: Yemen’s Nobel Peace Prize Tawakul Karman has been denied entry into Egypt after she landed at Cairo airport "for security reasons", officials say. Ms Karman, the first Arab woman to win the prestigious prize, was reportedly held on arrival and ordered to fly on the same plane back to the Gulf. She has voiced support to Muslim Brotherhood followers, calling Mursi’s ouster ‘undemocratic’.