Egypt’s vice president calls for talks with the Muslim Brotherhood

Published: Updated:

Egypt’s interim vice President Mohamed al-Baradei has called for a halt to violence followed by talks with the Muslim Brotherhood and other backers of ousted president Mohammed Mursi.

His comments, in an interview with the Washington Post, were published Friday as Mursi supporters staged fresh rallies in Egypt in defiance of government orders that their protest camps be broken up.

“What we need to do right now number one, of course, is to make sure that we stop the violence,” said al-Baradei, a secular Nobel Peace laureate and former U.N. nuclear negotiator.

“Once we do that, we immediately have to go into a dialogue to ensure that the Brotherhood understand that Mr. Mursi failed. But that doesn’t mean that the Brotherhood should be excluded in any way.

“They should continue to be part of the political process, they should continue to participate in the rewriting of the constitution, in running for parliamentary elections and presidential elections.”

More than 250 people have been killed in recent weeks as clashes have erupted around the mass protests by the Muslim Brotherhood calling for Mursi’s reinstatement.

The Islamist movement, which dominated elections held in the wake of the 2011 overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, has refused to negotiate with the military-backed interim government.

The military drove Mursi – Egypt’s first democratically elected leader -- from power amid massive protests against his year-long rule.

Dozens of members of the Muslim Brotherhood have been jailed since Mursi’s ouster, but Baradei held out the offer of immunity for those not implicated in serious crimes.

“They need to cooperate. But they need of course to feel secure, they need immunity, they need to feel that they are not excluded. It’s things we are willing to provide,” he said.

But he also indicated more hardline voices in the security forces and interim government could prevail, raising the likelihood of violence.

“People are very angry with me because I am saying, ‘Let’s take time, let’s talk to them.’ The mood right now is, ‘Let’s crush them, let’s not talk to them,’” he said.

“We need to get a long-range view based on restoring order and based on national consensus and reconciliation. I hope the Brotherhood understands that time is not on their side.

“I’m holding the fort, but I can’t hold it for very long.”