Interim President holds talks with military to prepare for constitutional declaration

Holding aloft pictures of the deposed Egyptian President and chanting slogans of support, thousands filtered into Cairo’s Nasr City on Saturday to reinforce a large protest that refuses to legitimise the military coup that brought down Mohamed Morsy earlier in the week.

Just after the layered barricades at the entrance of the encampment are crossed, activists — many armed with sticks — huddle in small groups, shouting slogans calling for Mr. Morsy’s reinstatement to the presidency. “This is a coup and we hold the Americans ultimately responsible for this,” says Mahmoud Ahmed, a student at the new campus of the nearby Al Azhar University. The focal point of the rally, is Abdel Fattah-al-Sisi, the defence minister, who has become the face of the coup. “Al-Sisi is the biggest villain of this episode,” adds Mohammed, another Muslim Brotherhood supporter. He held the General guilty of treachery as Mr. Morsy had handpicked him for the Defence Minister’s post.

The Brotherhood’s uncompromising disposition toward the military takeover rang out loud and clear during Friday’s address to supporters at Nasr city by Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s head. In his fiery speech, Mr. Badie stressed that his organisation would not dilute its maximalist goal of seeking the President’s reinstatement.

A day later, Hussein Ibrahim, the secretary-general of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), affiliated to the Brotherhood, has rejected an invitation for talks with the military-backed interim government. “The party doesn’t acknowledge the coup d’état, we stress that the legitimate President for Egypt is Mohamed Morsy,” said Mr. Ibrahim in a statement.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s refusal to engage in dialogue has come as a blow to efforts by the military to form a stable interim government before elections are held. Mr. Morsy’s exit has exposed a yawning institutional vacuum reinforced by interim President, Adly Mansour’s decision on Friday to dissolve the Upper House Shura Council. Egypt’s constitutional court had already shuttered the Lower House of Parliament last year.

Despite the Brotherhood’s firm stance, steeled by the demonstration of impressive street power, supporters of the military takeover continue to remain upbeat. Leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi, who had stood third in last year’s presidential poll, told Reuters in an interview that Egypt’s political vacuum can be filled without too much difficulty. He proposed that Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should be appointed as the temporary Prime Minister, for a period not more than six months. “We have agreed on a roadmap that has a new constitution that will be drafted by a committee to amend the suspended constitution and change the disputed articles, after which people will vote on it in a referendum. Then, there will be a presidential election, then a parliamentary election,” said Mr. Sabbahi.

With time running out, Mr. Mansour, the interim President, was making feverish efforts to cool the combustible atmosphere of political volatility that prevailed in Egypt. Early on Saturday, he met key figures in the security establishment including the Defence and Interior ministers, as well as the country’s intelligence chief. The website of the Egyptian daily Al Ahram also reported that the interim President has held talks with constitutional experts to prepare for a new constitutional declaration that would roll out details about managing the upcoming transitional period.

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