Obama Calls Egypt's Morsi To Express Concern
July 02, 2013
U.S. President Barack Obama has called Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi to express concerns over Egypt's escalating political crisis.
The White House said on July 2 that Obama asked Morsi "to take steps to show that he is responsive" to the concerns of his political opponents.
Millions of Egyptians began protests against Morsi across the country this week.
Morsi's office says he will stick to his own political reconciliation plan despite the July 1 ultimatum from the military demanding the government and the opposition find a compromise within 48 hours. If they don't, the military said it would offer its own road map.
Morsi said the ultimatum risked causing confusion.
Egyptian military chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said the people had expressed their will in the large demonstrations held on June 30 and that their demands must be met.
The military denied it was staging a coup, but merely pressuring the two sides to negotiate.
Opponents accuse Morsi of handing too much power to his Muslim Brotherhood and failing to deal with the country's social and economic problems.
The protests on June 30 coincided with the first anniversary of Morsi taking power as Egypt's first democratically elected president.
Tens of thousands of protesters remain out on Tahrir Sqare in Cairo as rallies continue elsewhere as well.
Morsi said the military had not consulted with him and that such an ultimatum risked causing confusion.
Opposition Welcomes Military Role
The main opposition National Salvation Front ruled out talks with Morsi and said it would negotiate with Sisi once the 48-hour deadline expires.
National Salvation Front spokesman Sameh Ashour denied the military was staging a coup.
"It is impossible that the military can ever give up protecting the Egyptian people. The statement stressed that they will refrain from political competition and have no intention of seeking power. It also stressed on the military's respect for the principles of democracy and the will of the people," Ashour told the press on July 1.
An Egyptian Islamist alliance including the Muslim Brotherhood called on Morsi supporters to take to the streets to support him as the country's legitimate leader.
A spokesman for the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy read out a statement at a press conference in Cairo on July 2.
"The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy confirms the following: firstly, respect for the will of the people and the constitutional legitimacy of the elected president and confirms it is keen on safekeeping peace in the nation and on national reconciliation, which will achieve the nation's welfare," he said.
The group said that it rejected attempts to use the army to "assault legitimacy."
Meanwhile, the state news agency MENA reports Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr has tendered his resignation.
At least five ministers have resigned since the mass protests on June 30.
At the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged Egyptians to find ways to resolve their differences through democratic means.
With reporting by AP and Reuters
Copyright (c) 2013. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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