Egypt rivals support ‘serious dialogue’, condemn deadly violence

Rival factions in Egypt condemned the violence that's killed dozens and pledge support for national dialogue. (AFP)

Rival factions in Egypt on Thursday condemned the violence which has killed dozens in a week of unrest and pledged support for a national dialogue to resolve the political crisis gripping the country.

Top Islamic scholar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb chaired talks between liberal opposition heads, Islamists, youth groups, independents and church members at the headquarters of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning.

They signed an Al-Azhar document vowing to support "a serious dialogue" and "condemn all forms of violence and incitement to violence," and stressing "the responsibility of the state and its security apparatus to protect citizens."

"We come out of these talks with some sort of optimism" despite "the difficult challenges ahead," former UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader of the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF), said.

"We will do whatever we can with goodwill to build the trust of the Egyptian people," he told reporters.

Saad al-Katatni, head of the Freedom and Justice Party of President Mohamed Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, stressed the need for compromise from all parties.

"There is no solution to the problems in our path to democracy without dialogue... Dialogue must have guarantees but no preconditions," he said.

"All topics are up for discussion and all participants said they were ready for compromises," Katatni told reporters.

Even with few concrete points agreed, the talks marked a blow for Egypt's Islamist president whose calls for dialogue were snubbed by the opposition only last week.

In a statement, the presidency welcomed the document as "an important step on the road to re-establishing stability."

But it remained to be seen whether the Al-Azhar document would carry weight on the street, where clashes between protesters and police have killed dozens since rallies marking the second anniversary of Egypt's uprising last week.

Opposition groups have already called for mass protests on Friday against Morsi, who is accused of betraying the revolution that brought him to the presidency and of consolidating power in the hands of the Brotherhood.

In a statement, the NSF said Egyptians should demonstrate across the country in protest against "a regime that seeks to impose its will on the people and is managing the country in the interest of the Muslim Brotherhood."

It accused Morsi of "only defending the interests of the (Muslim Brotherhood) instead of being a president for all Egyptians."

In Cairo, marches will head to Tahrir Square and the presidential palace.

The interior ministry said it respected "the right to peaceful protest," calling on all political forces to ensure "a peaceful and civilized" day, a spokesman said.
 

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Last Update: Thursday, 31 January 2013 KSA 22:51 - GMT 19:51
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