Mursi declares emergency in 3 cities
Cairo, January 28, 2013
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi declared a month-long state of emergency in three cities along the Suez Canal where dozens of people have been killed over the past four days in protests that his allies say are designed to overthrow him.
Seven people were shot dead and hundreds were injured in Port Said on Sunday during the funerals of 33 people killed there when locals angered by a court decision went on the rampage as anti-government protests spread around the country.
A total of 49 people have been killed since Thursday and Mursi's opponents, who accuse his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood of betraying the revolution that ousted long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak, have called for more demonstrations on Monday.
"Down, down Mursi, down down the regime that killed and tortured us!" people in Port Said chanted as the coffins of those killed on Saturday were carried through the streets.
Mursi, who was elected in June, is trying to fix a beleaguered economy and cool tempers before a parliamentary poll in the next few months which is supposed to cement Egypt's transition to democracy. Repeated eruptions of violence have weighed heavily on the Egyptian pound.
In a televised address, he said a nightly curfew would be introduced in Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, starting Monday.
Several hundred people protested in Ismailia, Suez and Port Said after the announcement, in which Mursi also called for a dialogue with top politicians. Activists in the three cities vowed to defy the curfew in protest at the decision.
"The protection of the nation is the responsibility of everyone. We will confront any threat to its security with force and firmness within the remit of the law," he said, offering condolences to families of the victims.
In Cairo the newly appointed Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim was ejected from the funeral of one of the police officers who died during Saturday's clashes in Port Said, according to witnesses and police sources.
A police officer at the funeral said many of his colleagues blame the interior minister for the deaths of at least two policemen during Saturday's clashes as he did not allow the police there to carry weapons and were only given teargas bombs.
The violence has exposed a deep rift in the nation. Liberals and other opponents accuse Mursi of failing to deliver on economic promises and say he has not lived up to pledges to represent all Egyptians. His backers say the opposition is seeking to topple Egypt's first freely elected leader.
Distancing itself from the latest flare-ups, the opposition National Salvation Front said Mursi should have acted far sooner to impose extra security measures that would end the violence.
"Of course we feel the president is missing the real problem on the ground which is his own polices," spokesman Khaled Dawoud told Reuters. "His call to implement emergency law was an expected move given what is going on, namely thuggery and criminal actions."
The Front, formed late last year when Mursi provoked protests and violence by expanding his powers and driving through an Islamist-tinged constitution, has threatened to boycott the parliamentary poll and call for more protests if its demands are not met, including for an early presidential vote
Mursi had invited 11 political parties, including Islamist, liberal and leftist groups, along with four top politicians to a meeting on Monday at 6 pm local time (1600 GMT) to work out a basis for a fruitful dialogue that would resolve the political crisis, according to a statement from his office.
The Front said it will meet earlier on Monday to discuss the invitation. - Reuters