Signs of retreat by Morsi after thousands protest against vote
Both sides have been accused of using firearms during protests that left six dead
Saturday 08 December 2012
The first signs emerged last night that President Mohamed Morsi's resolve to change the constitution could be cracking as aides hinted that the referendum could be cancelled.
Early voting on the draft constitution was postponed in a surprise move by election committee head Ismail Hamdi, and presidential aides raised the possibility of cancelling next week's poll as they urged protesters to show "self-restraint".
The prospect was raised after another day of protest in which protesters breached the gates of President Morsi's palace and opposition leaders rejected his call for talks.
Guards moved to secure the door of the palace after its barricade of barbed wire was cut by demonstrators who swarmed into the compound, after marching up to eight miles in numbers approaching 10,000.
In a potentially calamitous game of brinkmanship developing between the nation's rival factions, opposition groups are planning to call for labour strikes should Mr Morsi continue to ignore their demands to suspend a vote on the country's new constitution.
Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate who is now coordinator of the National Salvation Front, was among those saying they would defy Mr Morsi's request for talks over the referendum due to be held on 15 December.
The crisis has spurred the opposition to unite under the Front's liberal coalition after months of nursing often petty divisions. As several thousand protesters marched for hours in a huge procession across the capital, descending on the president's east Cairo headquarters, Mr ElBaradei said "national forces" should treat Mr Morsi's offer as an exercise in "arm-twisting and imposition of a fait accompli".
One member of the coalition, Shaheer George, told The Independent: "It's impossible for the referendum to happen now. The judiciary have said they will not supervise it and there is also the potential for violence. It is not just a political concern any more, but a security concern."
As a dangerous impasse develops, opposition parties are aware that ordinary Egyptians provide their primary leverage, and yesterday's demonstrators included members of all the country's leading liberal political parties. Opposition groups continue to demand that the president opens an independent investigation into Wednesday night's violence, in which six people were killed and more than 600 injured.
Many have accused the Muslim Brotherhood of escalating the trouble by using firearms against their opponents, although video footage suggested that weapons were also being used by anti-Morsi protesters.
"We consider the violence an act of war," said Ahmed Khair of the liberal Free Egyptians Party. "The people are calling for the removal of the regime."
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 4 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
- 5 Westboro Baptist Church couldn't picket Leonard Nimoy's funeral because they didn't know where it was
Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook CEO's one simple test for who to hire
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Saudi Arabia executions now at 'unprecedented rate' after kingdom kills four more in two days
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Nigel Farage promises Ukip will not 'stigmatise' would-be migrants – and says he wants 'everyone to speak the same language'
Ex-head of MI6: 'We shouldn't kid ourselves that Russia is on a path to democracy'
Most people think legal tax avoidance is just as wrong as illegal tax evasion, poll suggests
£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...
£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...