Mursi tasks provincial governors with easing state of emergency

Published: Updated:

Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi has delegated provincial governors in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia to ease or annul the state emergency procedures following a wave of violent unrest, Al Arabiya correspondent reported on Wednesday.

Mursi late on Sunday sought to crack down on violence which has swept Egypt since Friday in which more than 45 people have died, declaring a month-long state of emergency in the provinces of Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya.

In a televised address he also slapped the three provinces with night-time curfews, while calling the opposition -- which accuses him of betraying the revolution that brought him to power -- to a national dialogue at the presidential palace at 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) Monday.

But the violence only worsened after Mursi’s speech, with clashes erupting again on Tuesday in several cities, prompting the president to postpone an official visit to France this week.

Mursi had been due to meet French President Francois Hollande on Friday to discuss France's military intervention in Mali, which he has criticized.

The Egyptian opposition has pledged mass protests on Friday after violence sweeping the country left at least 52 dead in five days.

Throughout the crisis, presidential officials and the Brotherhood have depicted the unrest as caused by thugs and supporters of Mubarak's regime - and they have suggested that the political opposition is using the turmoil to overturn the results of elections that Islamists have repeatedly won the past year, bringing them to power.

The opposition contends the crisis is caused by Brotherhood attempts to monopolize power and can only be resolved if it makes major concessions to loosen its grip, including forming a national unity government and rewriting contentious parts of the Islamist-backed constitution.

The Brotherhood has dismissed those demands, and Mursi has instead invited the opposition to join a broad dialogue conference. The opposition has refused it as mere window dressing.