Egypt's opposition rejects constitutional referendum

Sun Dec 9, 2012 2:46pm EST
 

By Alistair Lyon and Tamim Elyan

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's main opposition coalition rejected on Sunday Islamist President Mohamed 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 on Tuesday.

The Front's main leaders - Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, former Foreign Minister Amr Moussa and leftist Hamdeen Sabahy - did not attend the event.

Hundreds 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.

Islamists say the vote will seal a democratic transition that began when a popular uprising toppled Hosni Mubarak 22 months ago after three decades of military-backed one-man rule.   Continued...

 
Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi (C) attends a meeting with Egypt's Vice President Mahmoud Mekky (L) with other politicians and heads of parties at the presidential palace in Cairo December 8, 2012. Mursi cancelled a decree which had sparked huge protests by giving him sweeping powers. REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency/Handout