Wide reactions follow Mursis emergency state deceleration to halt chaos

Egyptian masked protesters wearing sweat-tops with the Arabic slogan, 'The revolution is inside us and the regime challenges us' during clashes near Cairo's Tahrir Square on January 27, 2013. (AFP)

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi’s speech late on Sunday prompted various reactions from the country’s political factions, after he declared a state of emergency in three Suez Canal provinces that had been experiencing violent protests for the past four days.

The country’s April 6 Movement released a statement criticizing the president’s speech and calling for more protests on Monday.

“Day after day, Mursi proves that he is the worst Egyptian president throughout the country’s history,” the movement said in a statement. “He is a criminal not working for the benefit of the Egyptian people.”

The movement accused the ministry of interior and militia’s belonging to the Brotherhood of attacking participants in the Port Said funeral procession on Sunday. State television said seven people died from gunshot wounds in Port Said on Sunday. Port Said’s head of hospitals, Abdel Rahman Farag, told Reuters more than 400 people had suffered from teargas inhalation, while 38 were wounded by gunshots.

“We waited for the Egyptian president to speak and calm down outraged people,” the statement said, adding that “the Brotherhood leader instead made matters worse by warning of more killings.”

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 p.m. 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.

But some of the Front’s top leaders had already announced their position. Hamdeen Sabahy, a leftist politician and former presidential candidate who was one of the four invited by Mursi, said he would not attend Monday’s meeting “unless the bloodshed stops and the people’s demands are met.”

Sabahy’s Popular Current movement said in a statement the protests are due to economic and political problems that need to be addressed by policies and not through “security solutions”.

Front leader Mohamed ElBaradie described the dialogue “a waste of time” on his Twitter account.

On Sunday, 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.

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.

“I have said I am against any emergency measures but I have said that if I must stop bloodshed and protect the people then I will act,” Mursi said.

He warned that he was ready to take further measures if the deadly violence that swept over Egypt since Friday does not end.

“If I must I will do much more for the sake of Egypt. This is my duty and I will not hesitate,” the president warned.

Last Update: Monday, 11 March 2013 KSA 18:45 - GMT 15:45