Egypt’s opposition declares boycott of upcoming legislative election

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Egypt’s opposition National Salvation Front said on Saturday it would boycott the upcoming legislative election unless President Mohammed Mursi finds a “comprehensive solution” to the crisis.

The main coalition of parties and movements opposing the ruling Islamists called for the creation of a “national salvation” government, saying that otherwise it will “not participate in the next parliamentary elections.”

The statement comes as Mursi faces his worst crisis since he took power in June. Clashes in the canal city of Port Said left at least 22 dead, a day after nine people were killed in clashes between police and anti-Mursi protesters.

The NSF condemned the deaths in what it called a “new revolutionary wave” and called on Egyptians to protest peacefully.

It called for the formation of a new national salvation government, a committee of judges to amend to constitution it deems “void” and the firing of the prosecutor general appointed by Mursi.

If these conditions are not met “in the coming days,” the NSF “will call on the Egyptian people to protest on Friday to bring down the constitution” and call for early presidential elections.

A new Islamist-drafted constitution was adopted in December, but the opposition says it fails to protect key rights.

Mursi’s supporters say that enacting the constitution quickly was crucial to restoring stability desperately needed for economic recovery, and that the opposition is making the situation worse by perpetuating unrest.

The Jan. 25 anniversary showcased the divide between the Islamists and secular foes hindering President Mohamed Mursi’s efforts to get a stagnant economy moving, and reverse a plunge in Egypt’s currency, by attracting back investors and tourists.

Inspired by Tunisia’s ground-breaking popular uprising, Egypt’s revolution spurred further revolts across the Arab world. But the sense of common purpose that united Egyptians two years ago has given way to internal strife that has only worsened and last month triggered lethal street battles.

Opponents of Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies began massing in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to revive the demands of a revolution they say has been betrayed by Islamists.

Police battled hardcore protesters who threw petrol bombs and firecrackers as they tried to approach a wall blocking access to government buildings near the square in the early hours of the morning.

Clouds of tear gas fired by police filled the air. At one point, riot police used one of the incendiaries thrown at them to set ablaze at least two tents erected by the youths, a Reuters witness said. Clashes between stone-throwing youths and the police continued in streets near the square into the day.

Ambulances ferried away a steady stream of casualties. The health ministry said 25 people had been injured since Thursday in clashes around Tahrir Square.

Some protesters pledged to march to Mursi’s palace.

Thousands more protested against the Brotherhood in cities across Egypt including Suez, Ismailia, Port Said and Alexandria.

The Brotherhood decided against mobilizing in the street for the anniversary, wary of the scope for more conflict after violence in December that was fuelled by Mursi’s campaign to fast-track an Islamist-tinged constitution.

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