Wednesday 21 February 2018

Egypt's new president tells Morsi protesters 'there's no going back'

Hazem Beblawi
Hazem Beblawi

Ruth Sherlock and Magdy Samaan in Cairo

Egypt's new leaders have warned that there would be no compromise with supporters of the deposed former president Mohammed Morsi.

Hazem Beblawi, the country's new prime minister, dismissed the idea that Mr Morsi could be returned to power.

Thousands of Islamists continued to defy the new regime with a sit-in protest at a mosque in Cairo to demand Mr Morsi be reinstated following his overthrow in a military coup earlier this month. They ignored warnings from the interior ministry that the protest would "soon" be dispersed.

When asked whether the government might negotiate over Mr Morsi's return, Mr Beblawi said: "The declaration of the Muslim Brotherhood is far fetched. In the final analysis we have to agree that there is no going back."

On Friday night and early Saturday, dozens of Mr Morsi's supporters died when clashes erupted with security forces in the streets surrounding the Rabaa al-Adawia mosque in eastern Cairo. At least 72 people died. Witnesses accused the army of using live rounds and snipers of "shooting to kill".

Mr Beblawi defended the security forces. "I do not doubt what the security forces have explained – that they did not use excessive violence."

Adly Mansour, Egypt's interim president, has given Mr Beblawi the power to grant the military the right to arrest civilians. Some pro-Morsi supporters interpreted the decision as a prelude for a major attack against the protest camp.

Tens of thousands of people are camped out in the area, blocking access to several government ministries and angering some residents. "We will not leave this place, except in coffins," said Abdulrahman Ezz, an Islamic activist who participated in the 2011 revolution.

'BLOODY'

Mohammed Badie, the supreme leader of Mr Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, yesterday attacked Gen Abdulfattah al-Sisi, the head of the armed forces, saying he was leading a "bloody regime" and urging his followers to stand fast.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has issued a strongly worded statement saying he told Egyptian authorities it was "essential" that they respected the right to peaceful protest.

Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, arrived in Egypt yesterday for talks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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